Super sneaky salad: A classic grated apple-carrot salad
Dear reader, I’m writing to you from a train right in the middle of nowhere. I’m sorry for the late upload but the Deutsche-Bahn is not necessarily known for providing much, if any, service. Let alone a free, stable wifi-network. I am right on my way home, stuck somewhere on the railways of Germany, crammed into an overheated waggon filled with a few hundred screaming infants and an uncountable number of old men trying to talk to me about things. But I will stay strong and try to make my way home. (To state the obvious: you are able to read this, it’s still Sunday in some parts of the world, so I must have been succesful at making my way home.) Much like last week’s Brussel Sprouts today’s super sneaky salad is easy and fast to make and tastes like memories, not necessarily the most favourable though. Ever since I Can remember I have despised this classic of the youth-hostel-kitchen of Germany. But with just a few adjustments this relict of an uninspired mass-kitchen can be transformed into a refreshing and heartwarming snack for a cold winter supper.
Youthostels, kindergartens and mothers alike seem to have saved a special spot in their collaborative heart for this dreadful dish. And, probably, quite rightfully so, I can hardly think of any other dish that can be utilized to sneak some vitamins into an unsuspecting child so cost-effectively. And while I am all pro vitamins and balanced nutrition for children, I always have been having my… issues with this sad salad. The original recipe calls for a couple of well-aged carrots being finely grated, tossed with quite some acid and then left soaking for half a day or more. Sometimes a bit of sugar or an equally finely grated and equally well-aged apple will be added. Not so much for the consumer’s pleasure, but rather to clear out the shelf or the fridge of any unwanted and long over-due products. The victims of this crime to culinarity is left with an orange mush that tastes like damp earth mixed with acid.
The total lack of seasoning or consistency is not aided by the fact that the main-ingredient is usually only moderate or low in price. Usually they are very large, have been stored for quite some time and have this earthy dampness to them, that masks all other flavour-nuances. Carrots the length and width of an infant’s arm are for soup, not for snacking.
Obviously this is debatable. Infant-arm carrots might do just fine for most dishes you are making. However, this dish might just be the ideal chance for you to try something new and a bit unconventional:
Unbeknownst to most of us there is a group of secret vegetable, that hide in the darker corners of your organic green grocers and keep out of conventional supermarkets. Heirloom varieties are the hipsters of the vegetable patches. But much like their hip human counterparts they come in all sizes, shapes and colours that do not resemble the mainstream vegetables. Somehow most of these diverse veggies are quite similar in that they look like they have been taken straight from the latest Kinfolk volume, all scruff, muddy and substantially vintage.
Unlike hipsters (on which I don’t want to appear to be hating) differences in heirloom varieties from the mainstream veggies are not merely on the surface, there also tends to be quite some differences in taste. But it is true, while with this salad taste is half the fun, optics surely is the other half. For my favourite salad I like to mix in some purple, some orange, some yellow and especially some of my favourite almost white carrot with a subtle note of radishes. Assembling different heirloom varieties in one salad can make all the difference. Some pieces come on to you very strong, some are more subtle and elegant. The carrots mixed with juicy bits of fresh apple, tossed with fresh lemon-juice and aromatic coriander, a few dark morsels of sweet and rich raisins added and some creamy bits of salty feta, if you like – the perfect winter-supper.
Classic grated apple-carrot salad
Carrots Apple Coriander, fresh Raisins Lemon Salt Chilli, dried Feta cheese
You obviously don’t have to use heirloom carrots, especially as they can be rather hard to come by – but if you can, it will be worth it.
- Grate the peeled carrots rather coarsely. The fine you grate the salad the more of a mush your salad will be, conversely, coarsely grated carrots will make your salad quite crunchy. For a nice lunch I use about 4-5 medium-sized carrots. Save the juices and add them with the grated carrots into a nice large bowl.
- Grate about one apple for every four carrots, save the juices and add them to the bowl together with the grated apple.
- Coarsely chop the coriander and add it to the bowl.
- Add some raisins to the bowl.
- Add lemon-juice to the bowl and mix everything nicely.
- If you like, add some chilli-flakes to the bowl, just a hint.
- Add a pinch of salt and give everything a final toss.
- You could add some feta if you like, but the salad works nicely without.
Thoughts on how to avoid the mushing:
- Cool the carrots before grating, this will prevent them from oozing out too much juice.
- Use the freshest carrots you can possibly find, they will maintain their cellular integrity better.