Carrots are, perhaps, one of the most familiar and popular of vegetables. Maybe the first veggie you ever ate—I do recall carrot sticks with cheese whiz….oh my. But carrots can be sort of scarce at farmers markets. You can find them, to be sure, but carrots take up lots of space in the vegetable patch and their perfumed tops are a deer and rabbit favorite—not easy to grow and maintain. So most of us buy our carrots at the grocery. Imagine my absolute delight, then, when two of my favorite farmers—Jackie Mills of The Family Garden and Keith Biver of Biver Farms—started bringing beautiful carrots to market! I was shameless in the big bag I brought home.
However, the thing about fresh-from-the-farm carrots is that their shelf life is less than the bagged ones you get at the supermarket. You need to use them up, which became the prime motivation for this super-fresh vegan salad.
Another market favorite is something many would find less familiar: kohlrabi. It’s sort of a turnip but not. Hard to describe, though you can find it used in other recipes on this blog from simple roasted root vegetables to vegetable soups. I have used it shredded raw in salads, cubed in soups and stews, but my favorite way to fix kohlrabi is to roast it. Like a turnip or a beet, it becomes slightly sweet with this umami richness that is so delicious. Used this way, it heightens other recipe ingredients like nothing else I’ve found. So kohlrabi is a must here, in my opinion. Would turnips work? In a pinch, but go for the kohlrabi if it’s available. Bruce Haas of Daydream Farm grows the best kohlrabi in the region—next to his garlic, it’s outstanding!
And then there is the prep—I dug out my Spiralizer and got fancy! Remember Oodles of Zoodles? So not only is this salad yummy in the tummy, it is also a treat for diners’ hungry eyes. Unexpected and exciting—terms not usually associated with carrot salads. And flavor-wise it is sure to please the whole family. So let’s get cookin’!
No spiralizer? No need to worry. You can grate carrots using a box grater and just slice your kohlrabi super thin.
- Two large kohlrabi, washed and peeled (Large is better for spiralizing.)
- Olive oil and coarse sea salt for roasting
- One-half cup Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
- Zest and juice from one large organic orange
- Four or five green onions with their nice green tops, washed and minced
- One-quarter cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- Zest and juice of one organic lime
- One pound organic carrots, scrubbed—get as large and thick as you can, if you are spiralizing
- Three tablespoons cold-pressed hemp oil
- One-half cup raw sunflower seeds
- In a small bowl combine the chopped dates, orange juice and orange zest. Set aside.
- Combine the minced green onion with tops, chopped cilantro with the lime juice and lime zest and a dash of sea salt to taste. Set aside.
- Using the larger shredding blade of your Spiralizer, create the kohlrabi ribbons. Toss these with a few dashes of olive oil and some coarse sea salt. Roast at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes, stirring several times. If you have a convection oven, set the temp at 400 degrees and roast for about 10 minutes along with stirring. You want to achieve very crisp ribbons but avoid over burning them. Takes a mindful eye for a few minutes. Once done you can set them aside. This step can be done ahead, but not by more than an hour—you want a crispy topping.
- Next switch blades in your Spiralizer to the small-holed shredder to create your curly carrots. Carrots are tricky. The bigger they are, the easier it will be. If this is a pain, you can always grate them with a box grater; it just won’t look quite as pretty.
- Add the dates to the carrots, while reserving the orange juice.
- Whisk the hemp oil into the reserved orange juice (with a few grinds of black pepper, if you wish). Pour over the carrot/date mixture and toss well. Toss in the minced onions/cilantro mixture and thoroughly combine. Note that you can create this carrot/date/onion mixture up to a day in advance, if you wish.
- Top with the sunflower seeds and the roasted kohlrabi ribbons just before serving.
Servings depend on whether this is the main course in a light lunch or a side dish for dinner. Note that avocado slices and crusty bread go well with this salad.
So here is the main thing: you can make this salad just fine without a Spiralizer. It is going to taste just as good, either way. All the ingredients stay the same; just use a box grater with different size holes—larger for kohlrabi and smaller for carrot. Shoot for something that is equivalent to the grater blades in the photo above.
But if you are spiraling happily, go for it! Bigger and sturdier are the key factors in making this easy. You want thick hard carrots and big hard kohlrabi. Otherwise, the veggies tend to slip and slide or break into pieces, and that’s just no fun.
Variations on a Theme
Could you add a zucchini? Sure! Just add it at the very last; don’t marinate it in the carrot mixture. If it goes in too soon, you’ll have a watery mess. Add the zucchini just before the toppings and toss well.
Would red onion rings work? I think so! If the green onions are all gone for the spring, go with red—how pretty!
Could you add radish? Heck yeah. I think the little round red ones with white centers would be so cute. I’d slice them super thin or maybe grate them. I’d add them to the carrot mixture when you add your onions.
Don’t like dates? Well, this could be tricky because I think the dates are so spectacular here, I’d never change them out. However, it’s your salad, so….you’ll need an equivalent flavor and texture—maybe dried cranberries or currants. It won’t be the same, but it should be good.
Got other ideas! We’d love to hear about them!