Since I’ll be finishing up my work in Bulgaria soon and heading back stateside, I’ve been giving some thought as to a little vacation between here and there.  A few ideas have wandered in and out but yesterday I finally bit the bullet and bought tickets to Tunisia.  I’ll be there for two weeks, maxin’ and relaxin’ – and going to the desert for the first time.  I’m so excited, and in anticipation  I’ve been looking up as much as I can about Tunisian food.  Lots of couscous, lots of spice, lots of oranges.  I’m particularly looking forward to yo-yos – orange-flavored donuts in honey syrup.  Have no fear, I will surely be talking about all this in much greater detail, come July.  

One of the many recipes I stumbled upon in my searches was for a salad of lightly steamed carrots with cumin, cilantro, and cayenne.  It sounded easy and tasty, but since we can get only the first of those three seasonings here, unless it’s a good day at the supermarket, I took what I had in my kitchen and transcended that basic recipe to make a dish that I have decided to call…

A Tremendously Brilliant Pan-Mediterranean Carrot Extravaganza!

(Ta-da!)

Carrot salad pumped up with some sliced wild garlic  leaves – a sure signifier of spring – and drizzled with a little pomegranate molasses.  (I bought a jar of this stuff a year ago and am still trying to use it up, so it ends up topping off a lot of dishes, lately.)  If you don’t have wild garlic, throw a smashed clove or two in with the cooking water, then fish it out after draining, or chop it up and cook it in a bit of oil before adding it to the carrots. You can cut the carrots themselves into little rounds if you like, but if you really want to impress someone – or yourself! – a matchstick cut is the way to go. This is an impressive and simple salad, with ingredients to remind you that spring is finally on its way.

Carrot Salad with Wild Garlic
serves 2

1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
4 carrots, scrubbed or peeled and cut into matchsticks
pinch dried mint
2-3 scallions, white parts only, sliced
3-4 wild garlic leaves, sliced thinly
salt and ground black pepper to taste
pinch red pepper flakes
sunflower or olive oil
about 2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses

In a small pot over high heat, toast cumin seeds until they are fragrant and have turned a shade darker, about 20 seconds. Fill pot with water and add carrots and mint. Cover and cook about 3 minutes, or until carrots are just barely softened. Remove from heat and drain. Arrange on 2 plates and top with scallions, wild garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper. Drizzle with a bit of oil and pomegranate molasses.

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