This is a salad even the more avid meat-eaters –like my friend Stathi— will love. I first made it for our joined Easter table, early in May, inspired by a salad we had whipped up some years back with thin slices of butternut squash that I had marinated in lemon, then served with equally thin slices of zucchini. I think I had sprinkled the mixture with crumbled feta, but I don’t remember, really. This carrot salad was a big success, and our friends, in whose house we had the Easter lunch, loved it, saying that the leftover were even better the next day.
As I was writing this, I remembered another carrot salad, that one a classic from North Africa: The Tunisian Carrot Salad is also laced with lots of lemon juice, and unexpectedly scented with caraway seeds. Dietician will tell you that lemon makes you absorb all the wonderful nutrients of carrots; but this is an added bonus to the really brilliant combination of sweet and sour, that we, in the Mediterranean, adore!
Note the beautiful stoneware ceramic bowl my dear friend Hara Bahariou has created. I am so happy to have many of her exquisite creations in which I serve my dishes; makes such difference at the table!
1 ½ pounds carrots (about 6-7) peeled and very thinly sliced, preferably in the mandolin –very carefully!
1 small thick-skinned lemon, most outer peel removed with potato-peeler, then halved, seeded, and thinly sliced
About 4 tablespoons lemon juice, and maybe more for the dressing
½-1 teaspoon salt, to taste
1 teaspoon coarsely ground fennel seeds (in a mortar)
1 medium-small finocchio, outer leaves removed (frozen for soups and broths) thinly sliced
2 cups coarsely shredded iceberg lettuce
2 – 3 cups arugula, preferably baby arugula, coarsely chopped
A handful fresh mint leaves
The lemon marinade
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard –or more, to taste
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1-2 teaspoons honey, to taste
1/3 cup very fruity olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a glass or stainless-steel bowl that holds them snugly, toss the carrot and lemon slices with salt, lemon juice, and the fennel seeds. Mix well, preferably with your fingers, then cover with plastic wrap and let marinate for at least 1 hour on the counter; if you have time, it is best to let the carrots marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
When ready to serve the salad, drain the carrots and lemon slices, reserving the juice, and transfer to a nice salad bowl, adding the finocchio, iceberg lettuce, arugula, and mint leaves, coarsely torn –reserve a few for garnish.
In a bowl whip the marinade juices with mustard, molasses, 1 teaspoon honey, some pepper, and the olive oil; taste and add more honey, salt and pepper, as needed.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well to mix. Decorate with mint leaves and serve.