As the cold creeps in and all I find myself thinking of is a giant duvet bodysuit, where I last put my Eskimo sheepskin mittens and a lavender bath that never ends, I find it harder to eat consistently healthy food. Warm red wine-fuelled Sunday roasts, unappealingly cold trips to the shops and the need to heat our cold hands and feet from the inside out all make it hard to live off crunchy veggies and light seasonal dishes as much as we can in spring, summer or autumn.
But some tastes have a warmth all of their own and to my eager palette, sumac is one of them. With a tart but deep lemony flavour and a beautiful henna red hue, the spice brings a warm Middle Eastern flavour to all sorts of veggies. Ottolenghi loves it – one more reason we do too.
This salad is based around three main things: my favourite tahini and sumac dressing, adapted from the Honestly Healthy cookbook, a desire for some warming winter crunch, and a pressing need to use up all the carrots in our weekly veg box that doesn’t involve juicing or souping.
While the carrot and apple make a brilliant complementary base, the celery is easily swapped for whatever other crunchy possibilities you have at hand. (Celery was mine). Radishes, beetroot, kohlrabi and fennel would all slot easily in and add their own unique texture and flavour.
I give quantities here but, as with most salads, you can pretty much throw in whatever floats your boat and taste it as you go.
It is – in line with most of our favourite recipes – super quick to throw together and you can make more of the dressing if you’re a plan-ahead kind of cook and keep it in a jar in the fridge. Ben loves it so much I’d put money on him eating it with a spoon when there’s nothing in the fridge and things get really bad.
6 medium sized carrots
1 granny smith apple
3 stalks of celery
5 large dates, soaked
A large bunch of parsley
A handful of soaked almonds
A sprinkling if black or white sesame seeds
45g tahini plus one tbsp of the oil on top
2 tbsp rapeseed or hemp oil
3 tbsp pure water
1 small garlic clove, crushed (too big can be very strong!)
1 generous teaspoon sumac
3 tbsp lemon juice
Pinch of sea salt
To make the dressing simply whisk or blend all the ingredients and set aside.
Then thickly julienne or slice the carrots into ribbons with a veg peeler, slice the celery and core and chop the apple.
Add the parsley, roughly chopped, and mix together with the dressing.
Top with seeds, chopped dates and sliced soaked almonds and serve immediately.