It has been one year since I’ve moved back to Irvine from Pittsburgh, where I was obsessed with the roasted carrot salad from Station,” writes reader Linda Doan. “Can you help me re-create this fabulous dish back home in my native California?”
Simple as the dish may sound, this is no run-of-the-mill carrot salad. Station chef and owner Curtis Gamble tosses roasted coriander-spiced carrots with an earthy harissa vinaigrette before spooning them over a rich, tangy pomegranate curd.
Add a little frisée and carrot top leaves to form a salad, then top with freshly fried chickpea fritters and dollops of homemade cheese. The dish is certainly a project, but the results are well worth it. Gamble was happy to share the recipe so you can have a little taste of Pittsburgh back here at home.
Line a strainer with cheesecloth and set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the milk to a scald. Remove from heat. Stir a vortex into the milk and add the citric acid and vinegar all at once. Allow the mixture to separate into curds and whey but do not agitate or mix it. Set aside, undisturbed, until the whey (the watery liquid) is very clear, 15 to 30 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, gently scoop out the curds, place them in the cheesecloth-lined strainer and let drain, uncovered, in the refrigerator until completely cool. The cheese will be creamy and a bit crumbly. This makes about 12 to 14 ounces of cheese. The cheese will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to a few days.
Lightly grease an 8- by 8-inch baking dish and set aside.
In a dry saucepan over medium heat, combine the garlic and shallots. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the coriander, salt and turmeric and stir to toast. When the spices are fragrant, add the milk and bring to a scald over medium-high heat.
Slowly incorporate the chickpea flour using a hand blender until fully incorporated. The mixture will be very frothy at first and eventually thicken to a viscous paste. Continue to blend aggressively while the mixture cooks over medium-high heat. When the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan, after about 15 minutes, pour it into the prepared baking dish and refrigerate overnight, uncovered. Once chilled, cut into 1-inch by 1-inch cubes and set aside. This makes about 64 pieces, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe. The cubes will keep for up to 1 week, refrigerated, before frying.
Prepare a bowl of ice large enough to hold the top pan of a double boiler and set aside.
In the bottom half of a double boiler, bring water to a simmer. In the top half of the double boiler, away from heat, mix the eggs and honey and set aside. In a separate, small saucepan, bring the pomegranate juice to a simmer. Whisk in the agar agar, iota carageenan and citric acid and bring the mixture to a hard boil. Add a third of the boiling liquid to the egg mixture and stir to blend completely. Add the remaining liquid to the egg mixture in thirds, blending completely after each addition.
Place the pan over the simmering water and cook, stirring constantly, until the curd reaches a temperature of 179 degrees, about 10 minutes. The mixture will be thick and a bit lumpy but still drip freely from a spoon. Remove the pan from heat and add the butter, one cube at a time, stirring until each is fully melted before adding the next. Place the pan in the bowl of ice until completely cool. Puree until smooth using a hand blender, about 5 minutes. This will make a generous 2 cups of curd, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe. This will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to a week.
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Cut the tops off the carrots, and remove the leaves from the stems. Set the leaves aside (they will be used in the final recipe) and save the stems for another use. Rinse the carrots under cold water, scrub and dry thoroughly. Toss with the olive oil and season with the salt and coriander. Lay carrots in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast until soft to the touch, about 1 hour, rotating and checking for doneness every 15 minutes or so. Cool completely, then cut into 2-inch pieces. Chill until needed.
Combine everything except the oil in a blender jar. Blend on high speed and slowly drizzle in the oil until fully emulsified. Season with ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste. This makes about 3 ½ cups dressing, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe. The dressing will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 5 days.
Fill a high-sided saute pan with ½ to ¾ inch of oil, and heat the oil until a candy thermometer reaches 350 degrees. Lightly fry the chickpea fritters on all sides until crisp and a deep, golden-brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt to taste, and drain on paper towels.
In a large bowl, toss the chilled roasted carrots with a light coating of harissa vinaigrette and salt and pepper to taste.
On a large serving platter, drizzle several spoonfuls of pomegranate curd in random locations. Spoon the carrots over the curd. Toss the frisée and carrot top leaves in same bowl as the carrots, then spoon over the carrots and curd. Arrange the fritters randomly on the platter. Sprinkle with fresh cheese and serve.
Citric acid, agar agar, iota carrageenan, miso and harissa paste can be found at select cooking stores, as well as online
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