I’ll admit it. I’m a kumquataholic. This time of year kumquats are bountiful at the restaurant where I work. There’s a giant tub of them in the walk-in refrigerator and the bartender always has a perfect glass cup filled with halves of the adorable little citrus fruits. And whether I’m dressed in a white chef’s jacket helplessly searching for Tat Soy in the walk-in, or up front welcoming guests, the little orange gems are calling to me. Normally, admitting that you have a habit of taking something that isn’t yours while others aren’t looking is a shameful confession. But with something as irresistible as the kumquat, can you really blame me? And quite frankly, no one does. Especially Farmer Peter Shaner himself, who grows the flawless kumquats we serve at Lucques. So when I saw at my local farmer’s market last week, a bushel of what appeared to be equally delicious looking kumquats, I bought a lot of them. And instead of hurriedly popping them in my mouth for just a moment of undeniable pleasure, I made this salad.
Roasted Carrot, Kumquat and Avocado Salad
- 4 large garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon fleur de sel
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 arbol chilis, crushed
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 15 carrots, not peeled, if large, 3 inch strips
- 1 cup ripe kumquats
- 1 ripe Hass avocado, chilled
- 4 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 small Persian cucumber, halved lengthwise then thinly sliced crosswise
- 1 lemon, for juice
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
Using the palm of your hand, crush each garlic clove to loosen the peel and then remove the peel. Pound the peeled garlic with a generous pinch of fleur de sel, the cumin and coriander in a mortar with a pestle until you have a moist paste. Put the garlic paste in a large bowl. Add the 1/4 cup of the olive oil and stir well, then add the carrots and toss well with your hands so they’re coated with the oil and spices. Season with fleur de sel and toss again.
Put the carrots in a large shallow baking dish in one layer. Using your hands, scrape out the remaining garlic, spices, and oil from the bowl and spread evenly on top of the carrots. Pour 1/4 cup water in to the bottom of the baking dish.
Cover the dish tightly with foil or a lid and place in the pre-heated oven. Cook the carrots covered for 25 minutes. Take off the foil or lid and keep cooking until the carrots are browned and very tender, about 30 minutes more.
While the carrots are roasting, slice the kumquats crosswise into slices. Place them in a large bowl and squeeze the kumquat end pieces to release juices. Place the radish slices, and sliced cucumber in the same bowl.
When the carrots are done, take the dish out of the oven and let it sit until the carrots have cooled a bit but are still warm.
Meanwhile, take the avocados from the fridge. Halve them lengthwise and remove the pits. Cut the halves lengthwise and remove peels. Cut diagonally into 1/4 inch slices.
Put the avocado slices in the bowl with the kumquats, cucumbers and radishes. Squeeze the lemon juice into the bowl over the avocados. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and a big pinch salt. Toss gently and well with your hands. Push the avocado to one side of the bowl. When the carrots are cool enough to handle, add them to the bowl. Toss them thoroughly to coat with the liquid. Be sure to incorporate all of the garlic and spices left in the baking dish from the roasted carrots. Toss it all together gently, being careful not to break the avocado slices.
Stack the carrots, avocado, radishes, cucumbers and kumquat slices on salad plates.. Top with the cilantro and serve right away.