A few weeks ago I was in Santa Monica and found myself with an excuse to visit Huckleberry for brunch. Their cookbook came out last year, complete with a showstopping picture of berry swirl bread on the cover, so there was really no decision to make – we were going. When we walked into Huckleberry the first thing we saw was loaves of fresh bread and then a glass case of cakes – big cakes and little tarts, and slices for enjoying with a cup of coffee. Then there’s a counter loaded with baked goods – muffins, and croissants, and coffee cakes (which somehow are considered acceptable breakfast food even though the iced cakes nearby are not). And then there’s a refrigerated case with a variety of salads – lentil, roasted vegetable, and this one. Big slices of avocado and bright orange carrots with lovely burnt bits from roasting. Given the option of all the baked goods, the salad is what I ended up getting for breakfast. It was too good to pass up. Well, that and the blueberry cornmeal cake, which I may attempt at some point.
I know this isn’t berry swirl bread, or any of the many kinds of buttery pastry that the restaurant is known for, but in the few weeks since I discovered it, I’ve made this salad at least twice. It’s a little surprising to me that I never thought of putting these ingredients together, and a friend who was there with me expressed the same thing. Roasted carrot and creamy avocado go exceptionally well together, and the salad is hearty and refreshing and it just works. It makes me wonder how else I can put roasted carrots and avocado together, besides tossing them with a squeeze of fresh lemon. Or what other roasted vegetables I can toss with avocado and call it a salad.
I don’t often recreate restaurant salads at home because frankly it isn’t worth the work. Those salads usually taste good because they have a little bit of a whole lot of ingredients, each of which needs be prepped, chopped, dressed or cooked, and then tossed together at the last minute with a dressing. That kind of thing is for ordering at a restaurant, where there’s a sous chef to put it all together. Or maybe for making for guests – although then you’re serving salad for dinner, which can be tricky to pull off with a straight face, especially if you live in a place where it’s never really hot enough to justify serving salad because you just couldn’t turn the oven on (see: San Francisco). And sadly, that’s why home salads are often far less exciting than what you order when you go out to eat. And it’s also why this one is so good, because despite the short ingredient list and relatively simple prep, this version tastes pretty damn close to what I got on that sunny morning.
- 1 lb carrots, preferably ones that don't taper off at the end (Nantes carrots are like this)
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 avocados
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper to season
- Optional: ¼ cup chopped cilantro (I usually leave this out because I forget to have cilantro around)
- PREHEAT oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with foil.
- PEEL the carrots and chop them into about 2 inch pieces on a heavy bias, so the cuts are steeply diagonal instead of straight across, creating more surface area for browning. One good way to do this is to hold the knife at a 45 degree angle (or more) to the carrot and make a first cut. Then roll the carrot 180 degrees and make a cut without changing the angle of the knife. This creates pieces with steep angled cuts on each side without too much fussing.
- TOSS the carrot with the oil, cumin, and salt. Roast them in the oven for about 30 minutes, tossing them halfway through cooking to prevent burning. Take them out of the oven and let them cook slightly.
- SLICE the avocados into long thick slices - I like to halve them, then cut long slices down to the skin and scoop the slices out with a spoon. Toss them with the lemon juice to prevent browning.
- TOSS the still-warm carrots with the avocado - the heat will make the avocado a little melty so the whole thing will be a bit more cohesive. Season with salt and pepper, if needed (you'll need some extra, how much is up to you), and the cilantro if you're using it.
Serve warm or refrigerate for up to a day, although the avocado will start to brown which makes for a less visually appealing salad. Ideally you serve this to guests on the first night and enjoy any leftovers for breakfast the next day.