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Spicy Heirloom Carrot Thai Salad

Back in May we ordered four thai bird chili seedlings on Amazon.  A few weeks later we received a USPS box stuffed with styrofoam squiggles and four tiny plants that could fit in the palm of my hand. They were so small and frail looking we weren’t sure we’d be able to keep them alive.

Not only did they survive, but they got huge! They even made it through our month long trip to Asia totally unattended on our balcony. They’re surprisingly hearty little plants…and so so spicy.

So now we have four giant Thai chili plants that provide more chilis than we know what to do with. I’m always trying to think of ways to incorporate them into our meals.

P1140487This past weekend we picked up some beautiful heirloom tomatoes and carrots from the farmers market. The tomatoes became a Heirloom Tomato Tart with Gruyère & Thyme. I wanted to do something with the carrots that would keep them front and centre while also highlighting their beautiful colours. A soup would have blended all the colours together and roasting seemed sort of boring.

I was picturing beautiful ribbons or spirals of carrot but wasn’t sure what would go with them. To cook or not to cook? I decided to leave them raw in all their natural glory in a spicy Thai peanut dressing made with none other than our abundant chili harvest.

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I used a veggie spiralizer for the carrots. You could also use a vegetable peeler and run it down the carrots to make ribbons. I think that might work better because the spiralizer doesn’t do very well with smaller narrower vegetables so it wasn’t able to get through a lot of the carrot. My vegetable peeler has a serrated blade (for some reason) which would have created a ridged effect on the carrot ribbons that I didn’t really want. I also tried using a mandolin but that made very straight julienne like carrots, rather than curly spirals. So, your best bet is a vegetable peeler or a veggie spiralizer if you don’t mind some carrot by-product. I’m going to roast the remaining carrot later today and make a curry soup.

I probably used 6-8 chilis for about 2 servings. I removed the stems, sliced them thinly and removed the seeds to reduce the spice while keeping the flavour. Between spiralling, slicing, and making the dressing the whole dish took less than 20 minutes. It made a great lunch but would be good for dinner too with some protein on top. Also, simply omit the sugar to make it paleo. Peanuts are apparently not paleo and I don’t think this would be much of a dressing without them so turns out the sugar isn’t the only problem….apologies paleo eaters!

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Ingredients

450 grams / 1 lb spiralized/ribboned/julienned heirloom carrots

6-8 Thai bird chilis, sliced and seeded

2 TBSP peanut butter

1 TBSP palm sugar or brown sugar

Juice of one lime

1 TBSP fish sauce

1 clove garlic (mashed)

1 cm cube of fresh ginger (mashed)

3-4 TBSP hot water

2 TBSP fresh chopped cilantro

Fresh slices lime, chopped cilantro and peanuts for garnish (optional)

 

Method

Spiralize carrots with a veggie spiralizer or ribbon by running a vegetable peeler down them to create long strips. You can also julienne if you don’t have the other tools but it’s not ideal. Put the finished carrots in a bowl.

Slice and seed the chilis (or don’t – it’s up to you how much spice you like). Add to the bowl with the carrots.

In another smaller bowl combine the peanut butter, sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, mashed garlic and ginger, and enough hot water to make them all blend together. For me it was 4 TBSP but do one at a time and see how it looks, you don’t want it to be watery.

Pour the sauce over the carrots, toss until coated. Sprinkle in cilantro and toss again. Garnish to your liking.

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Honey & Chile de Árbol Skillet Cornbread

Usually whenever I want cornbread I just toss a few things in a blender and it’s done in about five minutes. This particular iteration of my many five minute cornbreads was absolutely perfect. It had a great sweet to spice balance and was just moist enough. I made it to go with frijoles borrachos – in case you’re interested. Best part is how fast it is.

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Ingredients 

2 cups cornmeal (I used medium ground like for polenta)

1 tsp baking powder

1.5 – 2 cups yogurt/buttermilk/kefir (enough to make a batter that pours)

1 egg

1/3 cup softened salted butter + 1 pad for buttering the top of the finished cornbread

1/3 cup honey

3/4 cup of corn (frozen is fine)

Dried chile de árbol, seeds removed (use however many you can handle – I used 5 or 6 small ones and it was perfect for me.)

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Method

I usually just toss everything in my mini blender and it’s good to go but because this recipe has corn in it too I removed the batter to a bowl where I added the corn and mixed with a spatula. If you want to be precise about it you can mix wet ingredients first, then dry and pour the wet into the dry. However, I don’t see the point of dirtying more dishes when it isn’t necessary.

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If you aren’t using a mini blender or food processor I recommend you dice up your chile however fine you want it (ideally very fine) before adding it…in case that isn’t obvious.

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Bake at 400 F / 200 C for 15 minutes then reduce heat to 325 F / 160 C and bake an additional 5 minutes. The reason for this is that you want to achieve a solid centre without burnt edges.

Remove from oven and butter the top. Slice and serve with honey butter if you want to do things right.

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