If you prepare a large batch of dressing once a week, you’ll ensure a tasty way to “dress up” any plate of food, with hardly any effort. As vibrant vegetables begin springing up from the soil, get to know them at their freshest and most nutritious with a quick steam to bring out their color and character, then top them with this addictively creamy and naturally sweet carrot-based dressing that carries the fragrance of fresh dill.
In lieu of the large amounts of oil that make up most salad dressings, this vegetable-based puree provides a generous dose of antioxidants and cancer-fighting compounds, and altogether avoids the unhealthy and questionable ingredients found in store-bought dressings. In addition to the vegetables suggested below, try drizzling this dressing over bowls of simply cooked grains, beans or steamed greens. Watch for carrots with their greens attached; they indicate freshness and the highest dose of nutrients.
Steamed Vegetable Salad with Carrot-Dill Dressing
- For the dressing:
¾ pound carrots, scrubbed and sliced ½–inch thick
1 small clove garlic
2 tablespoons lime juice
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons water
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive or flax oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped fresh dill
- For the salad:
4 pounds mixed lightly steamed vegetables (broccoli, asparagus, snow peas, beets)
1 pound baby arugula or spinach
- Place carrots in a pot over a steamer basket with 2 inches of water. Once the water boils, cover the pot and steam for 8-10 minutes, until soft all the way through when pierced with a knife. Remove the carrots and set aside to cool.
- Add the remaining ingredients to a blender along with the carrots. Blend until very smooth, adding more water as needed for desired consistency.
- Add the chopped dill and turn on the blender for a few seconds, just long enough for the dill to mix throughout without pureeing. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or vinegar if needed.
- On a salad platter or individual plates, prepare a bed of baby arugula or spinach. Scatter the steamed vegetables on top. Dollop the dressing generously around the vegetables. Serve dressing on the side as needed.
- Asian Carrot-Ginger Dressing. Replace apple cider vinegar with brown rice vinegar, olive oil with toasted sesame oil, and omit the dill. Add 3 tablespoons minced ginger before pureeing.
- Anti-inflammatory Turmeric-Carrot Dressing. Add 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, or 1 tablespoon freshly peeled and minced turmeric root.
- Filling Lunch Salad. For each serving of salad, add one or all of the following: 1 cup cooked chickpeas, 1 cup cooked quinoa, diced avocado, or leftover roasted chicken or fish.
A carrot’s nutrients are concentrated near its skin, so it’s best to avoid peeling unless they have particularly ugly spots; a gentle scrub with a vegetable brush will suffice to clean them.
- Carrots supply a significant dose of silicon, a mineral essential for proper calcium absorption and bone strength.
- Carrots are believed to relieve intestinal gas and indigestion, and combat harmful intestinal parasites.
- After a gentle steaming, certain antioxidants like carotenoids in carrots become vastly more available for your body to absorb.
Baby carrots may sound temptingly cute but they’re really just “adult” carrots that have been peeled and shaped down to size. Stored in plastic bags for ages and left to suffocate on supermarket shelves, the nutrient content of “baby carrots” is paltry compared to the sprightly carrots with their greens attached. Ditch the baby carrot habit once and for all!
For quick snacking, get in the habit of scrubbing and chopping your carrots when you get them home from the grocery store and submerging them in a container filled with water to keep them moist. Remember the quote by American food writer M.F.K. Fisher: “All of them, whether tender or hard, thick skinned or thin, die when they are peeled, just as you and I.”