The tender young vegetables available in early spring afford the kind of vibrant green salads that simply aren’t available at any other time of year. Tender early spring snap peas, pea shoots, baby carrots, broccolini, fennel fronds, baby kale, and other young greens are abundant right now. This snap peas and carrot salad takes full advantage of this spring bounty. It’s served with a cilantro, mint, and carrot green pesto, and crushed pistachio. It’s green. It’s beautiful. I’d say it’s even sexy.
A Case for Snap Peas and Carrot Salad Sexiness
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “I don’t doubt for a minute that a nice fresh spring snap peas and carrot salad isn’t healthy and delicious, Steve. The question is: can it make me sexy?” I get it. You want to be healthy, and you want to be sexy while doing it. Who doesn’t? Well relax, because it’s true! The dream is real. A snap peas and carrot salad can indeed make you sexy. Don’t believe me? Here are four solid reasons why:
- This snap peas and carrot salad looks sexy. I mean just look at it. I don’t know whether to eat it or rub it all over my body. When you eat a sexy salad like this the sexy salad’s sexiness rubs off on you. You look sexy eating it. See how that works?
- You’ve been eating starch and fat all winter. It’s time to get some fresh greens in your system. You eat this snap peas and carrot salad often enough and you’re going to get that lean and healthy springtime glow. And healthy is sexy. You can’t deny it. All those anti-oxidants. The fiber and the…f-f-f-f-folate. The bu-be-beta carotene. Whew! It is it me or is it getting hot in here?
- Did you notice that this recipe is a recipe for two? Oh yeah. A salad for one isn’t sexy. It’s lonely and sad. And a salad that serves four to six people? Well that’s more like a salad bar. But a salad for two? For two… Wink, wink.
- I ate this salad for lunch just the other day. A while later someone at work comes up to me and says, “Hey Steve, I couldn’t help notice that you look extra sexy today, and I’m not afraid to risk an HR complaint to tell you!” Well hello! I thought to myself, “What brought that comment on?” Then I remembered I’d eaten the snap peas and carrot salad. Coincidence? Hardly. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc! And I rest my case.
Why This Snap Peas and Carrot Salad Probably Won’t Kill You
Okay, enough of this sexy talk. Let’s talk about death. I know that might seem a foolish thing to do when you’re trying to convince someone to try a recipe, but bear with me. In his 1920 book Beyond the Pleasure Principle (super sexy affiliate link), Sigmund Freud argued that eros (sex) and Thanatos (the death instinct) are the human animal’s two primary drives. If this is correct, then talking about death is only going to make this snap peas and carrot salad even more appealing to you. But I digress…
What I’m talking about here are the carrot tops. I put fresh carrot greens in my pesto dressing. They’re kind of bitter and astringent. They add a distinctive grassy sort of greenness to the dressing. It tastes so spring. They’re also loaded with more healthy carotene than the root.
Trouble is, some folks think carrot greens are poisonous. Woops! We don’t want that!
Theories abound as to why some people have been lead to believe that carrot tops are poisonous. There’s a great break down of the most common reasons by Linda at the blog Garden Betty, which I recommend reading. The most common reasons are:
- There was some New York Times Blog article from 2009 in which the author, who admitted to eating carrot greens himself, suggested (without evidence) that carrot greens might be toxic.
- The modern carrot was bred from Queen Anne’s Lace, and Queen Anne’s Lace just so happens to be, um, also not at all toxic and completely edible. I know, I know. That argument sucks. It’s worse than the salad makes you sexy case I made just a few paragraphs above! But wait! The deal is that Queen Anne’s Lace closely resembles hemlock, and hemlock is deadly poisonous. We’re talking about the hemlock the Athenian government executed Socrates with here. It’ll kill you dead. All of these plants (carrots, Queen Anne’s Lace, hemlock) are related. So the idea, I guess, is guilt by family association.
- Carrots contain alkaloids, which are toxic and bitter. And it’s true. They do. But so do all leafy greens. Alkaloids make plants taste icky to bugs, which is good for the plants. Nicotine, caffeine, and morphine are also alkaloids–psychoactive alkaloids that humans really like. Of course strychnine is also an alkaloid, and its nasty stuff. But look, no one is going to say stop eating leafy greens, because they’re very good for you despite having very small amounts of something toxic. The cost/benefit analysis favors eating green things.
If this freaks you out, then leave the carrot greens out of the pesto. Also note that the alkaloids carrots contain are the same as those found in the nightshade family, which some people claim to be sensitive to. If this is you, then by all means avoid carrots altogether if you must. But before you do I recommend checking out the following defenders of the noble carrot. They include:
Happy spring salading, you sexies!
- ¼ Cup Chopped Fresh Cilantro
- 2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Mint
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Carrot Greens
- 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
- ½ Teaspoon Minced Fresh Ginger
- Pinch of Kosher Salt
- ¼ Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 2 Cups Mixed Spring Greens of your Choice
- ¼ Cup Fennel Fronds
- 6 Baby Rainbow Carrots
- 8 - 10 Spring Snap Peas
- ¼ Cup Purple Broccolini
- 2 Tablespoons Pistachios, finely chopped
- Pulse all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
- Cut the tops off of the carrots and slice them thinly with a mandolin (or a sharp knife and a steady hand).
- Bring about a quart of water to a boil in a pot. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice and water. Add the peas to the boiling water and blanch them for three minutes. Drain the water and add the peas to the ice water immediately to stop the cooking process.
- Carefully break open each pea pod, separating the two pods so there are a row of peas in each pod.
- Artfully arrange the greens, carrots, and pea pods on a plate. Top with pesto dressing and pistachio.