Its sweet note of honey and its aromatic cumin seeds give this salad a Moorish character. The sharp, nutty manchego cheese shavings add another taste of Spain. Prep and Cook Time: 30 minutes, plus 1 hour of salting time. Notes: Salting the sliced carrots makes them release their liquid, so it doesn't dilute the vibrant vinaigrette; salting also makes the carrots slightly tender. Toasting and grinding whole cumin seeds tempers the bitter overtones of raw cumin. Manchego, a firm sheep's-milk cheese from Spain, is available at gourmet, specialty, and Whole Foods stores. Use one with a good, strong flavor (ask for a taste before you buy it).
9 or 10 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into thin coins on a mandoline or with the slicing attachment of a food processor (to yield 5 cups; see Notes)
About 2 1/4 tsp. salt, divided
1 small garlic clove
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (see Notes)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon mild honey
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro, plus several cilantro leaves for garnish
5 1/2 tablespoons fruity extra-virgin olive oil
3 ounces manchego cheese (see Notes), shaved with a vegetable peeler
10 whole Bibb lettuce leaves, washed and dried
How to Make It
Toss sliced carrots with 2 tsp. salt and put in a colander. Put a plate on top of carrots, weigh down with a 1-lb. can, and set in sink to drain for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, chop garlic, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and mash to a paste on a cutting board with the flat side of a chef's knife. In a small frying pan, toast cumin seeds over medium heat until fragrant, 1 minute, and grind finely with a mortar and pestle (or put cooled seeds in a resealable plastic bag and crush with a meat mallet or the underside of a small heavy frying pan). In a small bowl, whisk together garlic, cumin, orange juice, sherry vinegar, honey, pepper, remaining 1/4 tsp. salt, and minced cilantro; whisk in olive oil.
Rinse carrots and turn onto a clean dish towel. Gently dry with another towel. In a large bowl, toss carrots with half of the vinaigrette and the shaved cheese. Divide lettuce leaves among plates and drizzle lightly with remaining vinaigrette. Layer carrots on top and crown with cilantro leaves.
Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.
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