When chef Bill Briwa (chef-instructor at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley) prepares this spicy dish, inspired by cookbook author Paula Wolfert, he purées the carrots; the soft mixture absorbs the seasonings well. We've sliced the carrots instead, for a dish with interesting form and textures. Prep and Cook Time: about 20 minutes. Notes: You can find harissa--a hot chile paste--in well-stocked supermarkets.
2 pounds carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons ground caraway seeds
1 teaspoon harissa
1/2 cup kalamata olives
2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (4 oz.)
How to Make It
Combine carrots, garlic cloves, and about 1/2 cup water in a medium pan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer until carrots are just tender when pierced, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, in a glass measure, mix olive oil, vinegar, caraway, and harissa. Mash the cooked garlic cloves with a fork and whisk into dressing. Pour over warm carrots and mix gently to coat. Add salt to taste. Let cool to room temperature.
Mound carrot mixture onto plates and surround with kalamata olives and feta cheese.
Wine pairing: Peppery Syrah, with solid dark fruit, herb, and olive flavors. Best in our pairing: Stolpman 2003 (Santa Ynez Valley, CA; $25), Syncline Milbrandt Vineyard 2004 (Columbia Valley, WA; $22), and Qupé 2004 (Central Coast, CA; $16).
Flavor bridges: Bitterness in wine can balance sweetness in carrots, or, as chef Briwa puts it, "Bitterness can make things taste grown-up." The olive flavors you can find in a Syrah do it for this dish; herbal notes keep step with the caraway. Deep, concentrated fruit flavors in the wine soften the spicy harissa.