From Chelsea Rinnig. Email her at chelsea[AT]borderstan.com.
I recently returned from a 10-day, culinary-focused trip to Israel that was nothing short of life-altering. Imagine: a country rich in culture, history and nature — bountiful and plentiful in agriculture and produce.
Enamored, I walked through fields of carrots, herbs and strawberries in the Negev Desert. I navigated the outdoor markets in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, sampling halva and gawking at rows of rugelach and dried dates.
Lucky for me, upon my return to the States, The New England Journal of Medicine published a piece stating that a traditional Mediterranean diet promotes cardiovascular health and diminishes risk of coronary heart disease — not that I needed further convincing after such a rich and delicious trip to incorporate Israeli food into my diet.
But really, the study does further emphasize the nutritional philosophy I try to convey in my recipes: a high intake of olive oil, fruit, nuts, vegetables, and cereals, moderate intake of lean meats like fish and poultry and less consumption of processed foods and red meat. Lucky for all of us, red wine in moderation with meals is acceptable.
Fragrant spices I picked up along my trip now fill my kitchen cabinets to remind me of the beautiful journey I encountered, and this Za’atar Spiced Carrots recipe triggers all of my favorite memories. Za’atar’s savory combination of oregano, sesame seeds, marjoram and thyme adds robust, distinct flavor contrasts to the sweetness of the carrots and raisins, while the pepper of the arugula blends and cuts through the salad, adding freshness.
Za’atar Spiced Carrot Salad
- 1 lb. carrots, washed thoroughly or peeled
- 1 bunch arugula
- 1 cup golden raisins
- Za’atar Spice
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 cup of grains (Israeli couscous, quinoa or brown rice)
- ½ cup of chopped pine nuts or walnuts
- Optional: ½ cup finely chopped red onion
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cut carrots into halves lengthwise and then two-inch segments. Toss carrots and raisins in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Za’atar Spice until evenly coated — about two tablespoons of each. Spread carrots along a baking sheet and roast in oven for about 20 minutes, or until browned.
- Roasting time will vary depending on the thickness of your carrots, but pierce with a fork to check. The raisins will also plump up nicely.
- While the carrots are roasting, rinse and cook your grains according to package instructions.
- Once both carrots and grains are cooked and slightly cooled, combine remaining ingredients and serve.
- Dish can be served warm or cold (hint: leftovers). A squeeze of fresh lemon juice is nice, too.