© David Loftus
Roast carrot and avocado salad with orange and lemon dressing
If you're going to use cooked carrots in a salad you've got to make it with some attitude! This fantastic Moroccan-style salad combines roast carrots with avocados – and because they have the same texture in your mouth, I thought I'd add the chargrilled flavor and crunch of toasted ciabatta to round things off. With spices, seeds, sour cream and a delicious citrus dressing, you've got a winner.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Parboil your carrots in boiling, salted water for 10 minutes, until they are very nearly cooked, then drain and put them into a roasting pan. You should flavor them while they're steaming hot, so while the carrots are cooking get a pestle and mortar and smash up the cumin seeds, chillies, salt and pepper. Add the garlic and thyme leaves and smash up again until you have a kind of paste. The idea here is to build up the flavors. Add enough extra virgin olive oil to generously cover the paste, and a good swig of vinegar. This will be like a marinade, a rub and a dressing all in one! Stir together, then pour over the carrots in the pan, coating them well. Add the orange and lemon halves, cut-side down. These will roast along with the carrots, and their juice can be used as the basis of the dressing. Place in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden.
While the carrots are roasting, halve and peel your avocados, discarding the pits, then cut them into wedges lengthwise and place in a big bowl. Remove the carrots from the oven and add them to the avocados. Carefully, using some tongs, squeeze the roasted orange and lemon juice into a bowl and add the same amount of extra virgin olive oil and a little swig of red wine vinegar. Season, and pour this dressing over the carrots and avocados. Mix together, have a taste and correct the seasoning. Call your gang round the table while you toast or broil your ciabatta slices.
Tear the toasted bread into little pieces and add to the dressed carrot and avocado. Mix together, toss in the salad leaves and cress and transfer to a big platter or divide between individual plates. Spoon over a nice dollop of sour cream, sprinkle over your toasted seeds and drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil.
• 1 pound medium differently colored carrots, with their leafy tops
• 2 level teaspoons whole cumin seeds
• 1 or 2 small dried chillies, crumbled
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
• 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
• extra virgin olive oil
• red or white wine vinegar
• 1 orange, halved
• 1 lemon, halved
• 3 ripe avocados
• red wine vinegar
• 4 x ½-inch-thick slices of ciabatta or other
• good-quality bread
• 2 handfuls of interesting mixed winter salad leaves (like Treviso, arugula, radicchio or cavolo nero tops), washed and spun dry
• 2 bunches of cress
• 2⁄3 cup of sour cream
• 4 tablespoons mixed seeds, toasted