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Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad – Hello, favorite new salad!

I love roasted vegetables and especially love roasted carrots. Roasting concentrates the flavor of vegetables and in carrots makes them even sweeter and more delicious.

I’ve made roasted carrots a zillion times but it never occurred to me to put them on a salad.

Fortunately it did occur to Ina Garten and she put this wonderful recipe in her new cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey.

I’ve made Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad a few times now and have made a few changes to the original recipe, some because of what I did or did not have on hand (maracona almonds) and some just to streamline the recipe a bit.

What you see here (plus Henry barely able to stay awake), is my go to method for this wonderful, flavorful salad.

Here’s what you need:

Carrots, Arugula, Garlic, Orange, Dried Cherries*, Walnuts*, Goat Cheese, Olive Oil, Sherry Vinegar, Maple Syrup, Salt & Pepper

Click here for a Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad Shopping List

*Feel free to swap out different nuts for the walnuts or omit them entirely if you are allergic. Also, dried cranberries are a good substitute for the cherries but I love the flavor of the cherries.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Peel 1 pound of carrots and cut them into segments about 2-inches long.

In order for them to roast evenly, split them in half or in quarters on the fatter ends. It’s more important that they be close to the same thickness rather than the same length.

Place the carrots on a sheet pan that has been covered in parchment paper.

You could use foil on the pan but parchment is so much better for roasting because vegetables, especially potatoes, do not stick. Hooray!

Drizzle the carrots with olive oil, about 2 Tablespoons, season lightly with salt & pepper, and toss with your hands to combine and coat.

Roast the carrots at 425° for 12-15 minutes, until they are just starting to get tender.

Remove the pan from the oven and drizzle 2 Tablespoons of real maple syrup over the carrots. Toss with a spatula to coat and return to the oven for 5-8 more minutes.

Watch these so that they don’t burn due to the sugars in the maple syrup and also that they don’t get overly done. Poke them with a small sharp knife to check that they are tender all the way through.

Look out for those delicious little caramelized edges!

Set the carrots aside to cool as you make the rest of the salad.

I substituted walnuts for the maracona almonds in the original recipe so I like to give them a quick toast in a dry pan.

Place ¼ cup of walnuts in a dry sauté pan over medium low heat. “Cook” the walnuts for about 6-8 minutes, keeping an eye on them so that they do not burn.

You might not notice a big difference in the appearance of the walnuts, but you should be able to smell a nutty aroma coming from them. That’s the oils from the nuts releasing.

Feel free to substitute any other nuts you’d like. I’ve made this with pecans and it’s really, really good with those little spiced, candied pecans from Trader Joe’s.

For the dressing, combine 1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar, 1 Tablespoon orange juice, 1 teaspoon orange zest, and 1/2 clove of grated garlic in a small bowl.

Whisk in 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and season lightly with salt & pepper.

Whisk to combine. Note:  This is much less dressing than the original recipe because I like salads pretty lightly dressed. If it’s not enough for you, feel free to double up.

Because salad does not keep well after the dressing has been added, I like to measure out my salad greens – in this case arugula, into a bowl or on a serving plate. That way I’m only dressing the greens that I plan to eat right away. You can keep the dressing, greens, and extra carrots (if you have any leftover) all in the fridge and then just assemble the salad when you want another portion.

As shown here with 5-6 ounces of baby arugula, you will have 4 nice side salads or 2 large dinner salads.

Place your baby arugula in a bowl, add the dressing, and toss lightly to coat.

If you don’t like arugula, I’d suggest substituting field greens or any of the smaller kinds of mixed lettuce.

If you’ve never TRIED arugula, I encourage you to give it a go. People often say it is peppery (and that’s true for the full sized variety) but baby arugula is pretty mild with a really interesting pop of flavor not found in most lettuce. It is by far my favorite kind of lettuce.

Portion the greens out onto individual plates or a large serving platter. Top with roasted carrots, walnuts, dried cherries, and dollops of creamy goat cheese.

Then dig in!

This reminds me a lot of Ina’s Warm Mushroom & Arugula Salad (also really good) that I featured here in 2015. I’m more than happy to have more reasons to roast vegetables, eat arugula, and have interesting, healthy, and delicious salads.

Here’s the recipe:  Adapted from Ina Garten

Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad

One more thing… I’ve had an idea for awhile to do a series of posts highlighting cookbooks from my over-flowing collection. I figured this would be a good place to start since I’ve made several recipes from Cooking for Jeffrey that I love. (Meatballs, brisket with leeks & onions, skillet lemon chicken so far.) More on this later, but if you have this cookbook and have made any of the recipes, leave a comment and let me know which ones you like. Also, if you have a favorite cookbook you think we should feature, let me know that too!

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