It’s not like I have something against healthy food. Seriously. In fact, there are times—like at the end of last week, in which I’d shared an entire dozen doughnuts with a friend, ordered things like toasted (and breaded) ravioli and huge slices of pizza, eaten meat in my lunches and dinners, gotten takeout more often than I’d brought brown-bagged meals (and had the accompanying bloating and heaviness to prove it)—where something fresh and healthy is all I do want. I know it may not seem like it around here, where I’ve posted dozens of cookie recipes and, lately, an onslaught of cakes, but I swear it’s true.
It’s just—I’m going to be honest—I don’t like eating things that don’t taste good. Is that so terrible? And, at least up until this point in my life, the things that taste good are, usually, not exactly healthy. The way I see it, if I’m already frustrated about, say, the fact that an apartment I went to see was in a creepy, creepy building with hotel hallways, I don’t want to add to that misery with bad food, do I? It wouldn’t be right.
So my solution for years, in terms of eating reasonably well while not killing myself in the process, has been portion control. I try very hard to eat because I’m hungry, not because I’m bored or lonely or something else. I eat whatever I want, but I don’t eat a lot of it, at least not regularly. (And when I do eat too much, my stomach is there to punish me, and, believe me, it does.)
But I’ve made a recent discovery that sort of thwarts my working system or, really, trumps it. This probably won’t be a secret to you, but I have been shocked. Here it is: Healthy things can taste good. Like, really, really good. Who knew?
The idea for this carrot salad/slaw came from Mon Ami Gabi, a French restaurant that’s part of the Lettuce Entertain You chains. I had dinner there a few weeks ago, where the waitress brought out a long baguette to our table, hot and crusty, wrapped in a paper sleeve. With it, she placed a small dish of carrot salad, heaped high and decorated with herbs and drizzled with oils. I would later have a steak and frites, with a amaretto souffle for dessert, and it would all be lovely, but what I’d keep thinking about, what I’d decide I need to make for myself later, would be the carrots.
The carrots! I don’t know about you, but I don’t eat a lot of carrots. Beyond the obligatory trays at parties, with raw vegetables surrounding dip, and, of course, the sliced carrots that add wonderful sweetness to a slow-cooked pot roast, I just don’t think about them. I might have brought a bag of baby carrots to work a while ago, eating them at my desk in an effort to stave off hunger, but I certainly didn’t enjoy it.
Now this salad? It’s a whole different story. It takes all the good of carrots—their faint bitterness and woodsy, earthy taste—and combines it with olive oil, lemon and herbs to create a sort of slaw so good, I’ll eat it by itself or on crackers or sandwiched between chunks of bread.
As a bonus, it’s loaded with nutritional value, from the vitamin A that my grandma used to say was good for your eyes to the fact that it’s long been believed to help digestive issues. This is a dish you will feel good about eating, before, when you chop the carrots and toss them with olive oil; during, when you pile their sweet, juicy mess onto a cracker; and after, when you feel refreshed, not overstuffed, from enjoying yourself.
In fact, you could say, this carrot salad is enough to make healthy eaters out of all of us.
Good News! This tasty carrot slaw, which I can’t stop reaching for, is just the beginning of a week filled with healthy, delicious recipes. Stay tuned!
Adapted from Joël Robuchon’s The Complete Robuchon, as seen in The New York Times
1 pound medium carrots, peeled
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (or tarragon or a combination)
Salt to taste
Buttery crackers, small biscuits or hot, crusty baguettes, for serving.
Grate carrots into matchstick pieces using a food processor, a mandolin or a sharp knife. Transfer to a bowl. Whisk lemon juice and oils together, pour over carrots, and toss. Add parsley and toss. Add salt to taste. Serve with crackers, biscuits or bread.