Being told as children that carrots help us see in the dark means we all know they’re good for vision. But do you know why they are so eye-tastic? Carrots are near the top of the list of vegetables containing the most vitamin A. And vitamin A is really good for eyes. It comes in different forms called alpha-carotene and beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is especially good at helping us see at night; see - our mothers didn’t lie. It can help prevent macular degeneration so we can see better for longer. Vitamin A is brilliant for our bones, cells, skin and fertility too. Plus, it helps our liver get rid of some of the pollution we come across day-to-day.
It’s not just Vitamin A that carrots offer. They are important sources of vitamins K, C and B6. Together, they boost our bones, blood, skin, create energy and may keep depression at bay. Carrots contain powerful antioxidants too, although we can barely pronounce them. These keep our liver, heart and blood vessels super healthy. But that’s not all. Carrots are full of fibre. Fibre fills you up, keeps your bowels moving and feeds the good gut bacteria. Increasingly, trials by the thousands prove how vital good bacteria are to our health, in countless ways. So it’s important not to neglect them.
Walnuts. There’s a reason why they look like tiny brains. They’re a good source of Omega 3 vital for brain health. Because they’re rich in essential fats, they help us absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in this salad. They are full of minerals, fibre and vitamins that are involved in producing energy too. Not only that, they are packed with protein and antioxidants. Antioxidants are found in the garlic, ginger, spices and coriander, too. We should never underestimate the might of antioxidants. These chemicals, teeming with goodness, protect our cells, therefore our organs, from damage.
As well as bursting with goodness we love this salad because it’s light. Perfect, for a balmy summer evening. Frequently, carrots can be a bit boring. Too often we slice them, automatically, into rounds. Or into batons for dips. Happily, this salad doesn’t follow convention. Grating the carrots gives a welcome texture. Walnuts deliver crunch. The garlic, spices and coriander engage the senses. Ginger, fish sauce and lime balance the carrot’s natural sweetness while echoing its Asian origin. Ultimately, this salad seduces the palate, leaving you wanting more. And more.
What you need
- 25g walnuts
- A thumb-sized piece of ginger
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1 red onion
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
- A pinch of dried chilli flakes (mean or generous, according to taste)
- 5 medium-sized carrots
- A large handful of fresh coriander (about 40g)
- Toasted sesame oil, for drizzling
Delicious served with grilled salmon or chicken.
Serves 4 -6
While you get the other ingredients ready, toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan on a low heat until they start to brown, then set aside to cool; roughly chop.
Harriet’s tip: Don’t bother peeling the ginger and carrots if they’re organic. Their skins are loaded with nutrients. Just give them a good scrub.
Grate the ginger into a big mixing bowl. Crush the garlic, finely chop the onion and juice the lime, adding them to the bowl.
Stir in the fish sauce, spices and chilli and mix together well, then grate in the carrots. Again, don’t bother to peel them if they’re organic, just give them a good scrub. Roughly chop the coriander and add it to the mixture along with the cooled, chopped walnuts. Season, remembering that the fish sauce is salty, and serve straight away.
Harriet’s tip: if you find that you have been too enthusiastic with the chilli, stirring through some yogurt (coconut yogurt works really well) can help temper the heat.
Harriet Bindloss has always loved cooking and feeding family and friends. She trained at Leith’s School of Food and Wine, worked as a private cook then went on to produce the food pages at House & Garden magazine for five years. Now she uses her experiences and passion for nutrition to feed her most difficult critics, her two young children.