carrot, feta, and pistachio salad with orange blossom toss + a giveaway!

hello from sunny los angeles where i am in town for a storm of fun things including filming with tastemade, talking about book stuff by the pool with alana (in 80 degree weather! omg), *researching* new restaurants like mh zh and kismet, hanging with extended family and my pops (!) who just happens to be in town too, and celebrating the launch of lily's book!! everyone together now: happy book birthday, lily!!!!

i am so excited that this day has come. lily and i have been talking about her book for two years now, and i still vividly remember the first time she told me about it. i was in los angeles to play an opera (it was this trip!) and after one of the shows lily and alana and i were standing outside at a bar downtown in a cloud of hot dog smell because alana had just bought a hot dog from a cart down the street. i buried myself in that smell because you know how i feel about hot dogs, and then from that cloud lily started listing all of the fresh herbs and edible flowers that her veggie-packed book was going to be organized by. there would be a mint chapter and a thyme chapter, and of course a whole section on roses. my mind went to salads but my nose was still on hot dogs and it created this perfectly wrong full-sensory moment that played out as if the meat scent accidentally got placed on the basil scratch and sniff and i was really, totally into it. 

at the time i was knee-deep in the planning stages of molly on the range, so it was natural that lily and i fell into roles as each other's deadline jazz freakout buddies, or maybe "book bridesmaid" is a more graceful term. (note to everyone writing a book: find a book bridesmaid or two because writing a book is way more labor intensive and freakout-prone than planning a wedding.) i was always so grateful to have a friend going through the same crazy book wildness that i was and i can't imagine going through it again without a friend like lil! now it's her turn to launch her book out into the universe and i am so happy that you'll all get to experience it. the whole situation offers this vibrant colorful approach to fresh things and it'll push you beyond your boundaries in the realm of edible flowers. some of the ingredients, like spirulina or rose petals, might be new to your kitchen, but the techniques are approachable and the world that lily creates within this book is so warm and encouraging.

so get this book. it’s filled with feel-good food and homemade body products that shows mother nature at her best. when you get it you first have to make the salad that eggboy and i have at least once a week, the greek salad with cumin-fried chickpeas and tahini mint dressing.

then you have to do the coconut mint scrub thing. (especially if a neighborhood bird accidentally introduced mint into your garden and now you have a garden of mint.) 

then make the jasmine ice cream that alana is posting about this week, which i’m eating right this very second. 

then you have to throw a hummus night and include this crisp refreshing carrot salad in the lineup. i have done this multiple times! i love having carrots in my salatim repertoire because they add color and starchiness without too much weight. and if you luck out and find rainbow carrots, this salad is a perfect way to showcase them. it’s heavy on the pistachios and feta, which makes me want to whip up a carrot cake with pistachios in it (and feta frosting? no that’d be gross), and it's in the orange blossom chapter, which is a chapter i could cook through five million times before having to buy another bottle of orange blossom water. i am so sensitive to it, i find i only need the teensiest bit to get the full effect. so typically when i make this salad, i start with 1/2 teaspoon of orange blossom water in the toss and then work my way up little by little, as if i were working with rosewater. i’ve also made huge batches of this salad for large groups of people using the shredder attachment on my food processor instead of a peeler to shave them. you can make a lot of it and prepare it a day in advance and it'll stay zingy and fresh. (if you do that, add the fresh mint right before serving though so it stays bright.) 

alright enough about salads, there's a rumor that lily made 36 gallons of cocktails for her launch party tonight so i am going to go drink them all. bye! 

carrot, feta, and pistachio salad with orange blossom toss

serves 4-6

from lily diamond's KALE & CARAMEL: Recipes for Body, Heart, and Table


for the orange blossom toss:

2 tb olive oil

3 tb red wine vinegar

1 1/2 tsp orange blossom water

2 tsp honey

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for garnish

1/4 tsp sea salt


for the salad:

10 carrots, washed and tops trimmed and removed

1 c coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish

2/3 c chopped toasted pistachio nuts

2/3 c crumbled feta cheese


make the orange blossom toss: combine the oil, vinegar, orange blossom water, honey, cumin, cardamom, the 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes and the salt in a jar, seal, and shake to blend. alternately, whisk the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

make the salad: use a vegetable peeler, mandoline, or spiralizer to slice the carrots into long, thin strips. finely chop a handful of carrot tops (resulting in about 1/4 cup). place the carrot strips and carrot tops in a large salad bowl.

add the mint and pistachios, and pour the dressing over all. toss to combine. gently fold in the feta. top with mint and extra red pepper flakes, if you want an additional kick of spice.


update: this giveaway is now closed. 5/8/2017

p.s. i have one copy of KALE & CARAMEL: Recipes for Body, Heart, and Table to give away! leave a comment telling me about your favorite salad to enter! open to residents of the continental u.s.