Bronze That: Carrot Miso Dressing
Everyone seems to love raw vegetable juices but me. Honestly, I can’t choke them down. Beet juice tastes too much like dirt smells. Carrot? Tastes weirdly floury. Wheatgrass . . . excuse me, did that come from the hoover shute of the lawn mower? I think that throat tickle is my body gearing up for anaphylactic shock.
Not to be mean, but for all my vegetable crushing, I’m just not a juicer.
However. I am a fan of reduced vegetable juices, used for sauces and vinaigrettes. Back in early 2000 I worked for David Bouley in New York City, a chef known for his vivid, healthy take on classic French cooking. His sauces, most of them based on reduced vegetable juices, pulps, or oils, glowed almost indecently: shockingly green chive oil, incandescent fuschia beet-red wine sauce, egg-yolk colored saffron mango sauce. In his kitchen, the Champion electric juicer was always warm and humming. Every morning we reduced 3 quarts of pineapple juice down to one; 4 quarts of beet juice down to a bloody syrup; and 2 quarts of carrot juice down to a broken, fuzzy dark orange liquid–which we then buzzed in a blender with lemon juice and good olive oil, restoring its lucid bright orange glow.
I’ve never forgotten the flavor of that carrot vinaigrette. I think we served it in a plush orange puddle beneath a seared copper-topped sea scallop, possibly with tendrils of baby squid curling on the side.
But now, years later, when the nadir of winter arrives, bringing along a craving for something bright and fresh–and thanks, butI don’t want a tall glass of kale-ginger-juice–I juice a quart of carrots (or, if I’m lazy, buy a quart of carrot juice), and reduce it on the stove with a couple of pads of ginger and dried red chiles. When the juice breaks and starts to look dark tan/orangey, kind of like fake tanner, I pour it into a blender and buzz it with lemon juice, mirin, rice wine vinegar, lots of good olive oil and–this here’s my addition–a dollop of white miso.
If I had access to some nice sea scallops, I’d recreate that original carrot vinaigrette dish, but this carrot miso dressing is good on anything. It bronzes everything it touches, keeps a week, and makes me feel healthier than I have the right to.
Carrot Miso Dressing
(with toasted walnuts–not pictured, but wonderful)
2 cups carrot juice
3 slices ginger root
1 dried red chile or 1/4 red jalapeno
1 peeled garlic clove
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons white miso
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
10 cups torn greens
1 cup walnuts
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 smashed cloves garlic
salt and pepper to taste
For the dressing, combine the carrot juice, ginger and chile in a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer and cook until the liquid has reduced to approximately 1/3 cup (a little over is fine).
Pour the juice into a blender and add the garlic, mirin, vinegar, lemon juice, and miso, and buzz until combined. With the blender running, drizzle in the olive oil until you have a smooth orange emulsified dressing. Pour into a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. You should have about 1 cup.
For the salad, toast the walnuts in a small skillet: combine the walnuts with the butter and olive oil, salt and pepper, and another smashed garlic clove or two if you like. Cook over low heat, turning often, until roasted through and dark amber brown on the edges.
Tear the lettuce into a large salad bowl, pour on the walnuts, including the oil in then pan, and toss with tablespoons of the carrot miso dressing until perfectly coated.