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I was up in Vermont this past weekend extending my birthday celebrations with old and new friends and, of course, delicious food. I hesitated before posting because I didn’t get the best food shots (cooking in the evening) but one dish in particular was so tasty I wanted to share. AND it makes use of those preserved lemons you made after reading my recent post. It’s so addictive, and easy to make, this will go into my regular rotation.

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March in Vermont. You can hardly call it spring. It’s either mud season or maple sugaring season, depending on how charitable you feel. These are some shots taken in the surroundings of my parents’ house, including the not-quite-frozen pond and hardy grasses that survived the winter. Check out the cerulean sky!

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One reason I haven’t posted too much lately — aside from concussion recovery — has been wanting to focus more on vegan and vegetarian food and less on meat-centered dishes, not that that was ever my focus. A goal of mine this year is to move more gradually in the direction of an animal-free diet. I’m about 80% there already but it’s that last 20% I find challenging. This spicy carrot salad is vegan (if you omit the optional Greek yogurt) and goes great with a number of main dishes.

This weekend I served it with a very non-vegan leg of lamb, the recipe of which came from the cookbook Jerusalem. The meat was from Duclos’s Sheep Farm in Weybridge, which I mentioned here last summer. From “mostly food” to “mostly vegan!” It’s a gradual process…

Ok, carrots. I love this dish because it’s richness comes from the onion and spices and not from butter or dairy or lots of oil. You can adjust the level of spiciness to your liking, but the recipe below is fairly mild. You could serve this with a warm freekah salad, which I should probably post about next. You cook the freekah just as you would brown rice and add to it caramelized shallots, scallions, and lots of fresh parsley. Dig in.

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Spicy carrot salad
Adapted from Plenty

Serves 4–6

2 lbs carrots
1/3 c olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tsp maple syrup
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 medium jalapeño, finely chopped
1 scallion, green and white parts, finely chopped
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp chopped preserved lemon (recipe here)
salt
2 1/2 c cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 c Greek yogurt, optional

Peel the carrots and cut them into semicircles 1/2 inch thick. Place in a large saucepan covered by cold salted water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until tender but still crunchy. Drain in a colander and leave to cool and dry out.

Heat the oil in a large pan and sauté the onion for 12 minutes on medium heat until soft and starting to brown. Add the cooked carrots and all the remaining ingredients, apart from the cilantro and yogurt. Mix well. Remove from heat. Season with salt, stir, and leave to cool.

Before serving, stir in the cilantro, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve with a dollop of yogurt or, to keep it vegan, drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with a little more cilantro.

Below is Wolfgang Laib’s installation at MoMA which just ended on Monday: hazelnut pollen in the main atrium. Beautiful, meditative, and beckoning spring.

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