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Sea, Smoke and Carrots

Once in a while, a single dish drives me back to a restaurant again and again and again. This is the case with the gorgeously grounding Carrot Hijiki Salad I discovered at The Fat Radish at a CAP Beauty holiday dinner years ago. I’ve had it again since then at their sister spot, The East Pole, and now look for excuses to meet friends on the Upper East Side just so I can order it. Salad may be a misnomer because its ingredients are cooked, but the combinations of flavors, bitter and sweet, briny and bright, earthy and salty and umami, balance it like the best of them. Its the kind of dish that could convince an omnivore of the power of plants. Recently, my husband invited a friend, a French chef and avid hunter, to dinner. I decided it was time to try my own version. I added smoke from a dried pimenton. The chef really liked it. We hope you do too.

For Greens

1/2 cup (loosely packed) dried hijiki

1 bunch lacinato kale

Scant teaspoon coconut oil

1 clove garlic, chopped

Dash of toasted sesame oil or coconut aminos

Big pinch himalayan pink salt

1 bunch spinach

Juice of 1/4 lemon

For Carrots

2 bunches small carrots, or 1 bunch larger carrots, cut

Scant teaspoon coconut oil

1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds, optional

Big pinch himalayan pink salt

For Tahini Sauce

1/4 cup raw tahini

1 or 2 cloves garlic, fresh or pickled

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon pimenton (Spanish smoked paprika)

1/4 teaspoon himalayan pink salt

1/4 to 1/2 cup filtered water

NOTE: If you can find a whole dried pimenton, use it by rehydrating it in a bit of warm filtered water. Add to the dressing in place of the dried pimento and use the soaking liquid as the water.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Place hijiki in a small mixing bowl and cover with lukewarm filtered water. Set aside to rehydrate for 30 minutes.

Trim greens from the carrots. If using smaller carrots (about 3 to 4 inches long and 1/2 inch diameter), leave whole. Larger carrots may be halved or quarter. Lay out on baking sheet and drizzle with coconut oil. Toss the carrots to coat with oil. Sprinkle with coriander seeds and salt and place in oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until carrots are tender.

In the meantime, Remove and discard thick stems from kale and coarsely chop the leaves. Steam for a few minutes to soften and set aside. When hijiki is ready, drain and add to kale.

To make the sauce, place tahini, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pimento in a high speed blender. Blend to combine and then slowly pour in water until desired consistency is reached. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Set aside. (The sauce can be made a day ahead. You may also want to double this to have leftovers!)

When carrots are done, turn off the oven. You may leave them inside to keep warm.

Coat the bottom of a large sauté pan, small dutch oven or wok with a bit of coconut oil and set over low heat. Add the garlic and cook until soft and fragrant. Add kale-hijiki mix, sesame oil and salt and stir to combine. Turn heat up to medium and warm the greens for a few minutes. Add spinach, a few drops of water and cover to let spinach wilt. When the spinach is just wilted, give the greens a big stir and adjust seasoning.

To serve, spread the greens on a platter or divide onto individual plates. Give them a good squeeze of lemon and top with the carrots. Drizzle with the smoked tahini sauce and serve.

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