Rabbit food of the most delicious kind

When I was a rebellious little punk of a vegetarian in a meat-and-potatoes world, people would often ask me why I was only eating “rabbit food” when there was, well, meat and potatoes to be had. I became an expert at making a meal out of the salads and side dishes at barbecues/Thanksgiving dinners/you-name-the-meat-centric-event-here.

Sounds a little grim and self-pitying, but the truth is that I really love salad. I’m a much better vegetarian now than I was back then (helloooooo soy-based sources of protein!) but I still find myself drawn in by creative, fresh vegetable-packed salads. My roommate, when asked to guess my favorite food  after living with me and watching me cook  for a whole year, guessed broccoli. I’ll take dark chocolate over any vegetable any day of the week. But broccoli definitely makes my top 10 list, followed closely by carrots.

If you don’t have a tube of harissa in your pantry yet, don’t wait another day to add it to the spice rotationa It is a middle eastern hot sauce that adds a smoky flavor to everything from eggs to salads to tofu. Believe me, it’s not one of those exotic ingredients you’ll use once then shove to the back shelf and forget that you bought. And if it does turn out to be one of those ingredients for you, you can send me your extras and I’ll quickly use them up.

This carrot salad with a kick is a great recipe to have in your repertoire for sweltering summer days when all you feel like eating is mango sorbet and watermelon. It has complex flavors yet simple ingredients, it’s a breeze to make. Throw it in a wrap with some feta and something protein-y, put some of that watermelon on the side, and you have yourself a meal fit for a rabbit perfect summer night.

Harissa Carrot Salad

3/4 lb carrots, peeled and grated

3 T olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed or grated

3/4 t cumin seeds or half as much ground cumin

1/2 t paprika

1 t harissa (adjust for your preferred level of heat)

1/2 t sugar

Juice of one lemon

2 T chopped parsley

2 T chopped mint

Salt, to taste

In a small saute pan, heat the oil and cook the garlic, cumin, paprika, harissa, and sugar until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Pour over the carrots and mix. Add the herbs. Top with crumbled feta. Serve cold or at room temperature. Keeps well for 2-3 days in the refrigerator

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