There are signs of spring everywhere right now. On any given day you can see people outside wearing everything from down parkas to shorts and tank tops, at the same time. After months of being wrapped up tight in winter clothing Vermonters vary in how they think it is best to face spring weather. In my garden my asparagus and rhubarb are slowly emerging to give me hope that that there will be fresh produce soon. In addition my apricot stick has flowers that my boys and I are envisioning as future apricots. Sebastian was wishing each flower will become 10 apricots (okay I admit it, I would love that as well). One day I know the stick will grow up to be a tree which bears fruit, for now however it is best described as a stick.
Then there are the spring time conversations of Sebastian and Julian. "Mama, we caught an ant. We are going to keep him as a pet until he is big and fat. Then we are going to feed him to the chickens. Isn't he cute?" This was closely followed by Julian calling out excitedly, "Sebastian, Sebastian, I found more ants climbing up the wall." And then my children were the proud owners of a whole collection of ants. Somehow I fail to greet the yearly influx of ants in my ancient house with as much joy as my five and seven year old boys do.
However even with all this and the happy cooks on other food blogs basking in the joy of local spring foods such as rhubarb, asparagus, nettles and ramps, I still have carrots from my winter CSA and not many local fresh vegetables to play with. So when I stumbled across a mention of Gyneth Paltrow's Carrot Ginger Dressing in the comments of another blog I tried it immediately. The dressing turns out to be the origins of the bright orange one I have been served in many Japanese restaurants. Only this one is better, fresher and more real tasting. The flavor is still hard to pinpoint as the one in the restaurant is.
The only problem I had with it was the shallot, which imparted that old onion flavor to the after taste. I tried many solutions, reducing the quantity of shallot, adding a pinch of sugar, and finally marinating the shallot in olive oil. In the end the best solution was also the simplest, I just left it out, which surprisingly had zero negative affect on the overall flavor.
As soon as I made this dressing I knew I was going to share it here, so I called my neighbors to borrow a pretty glass jar to photograph it in. Once I was done taking the photos I returned the jar filled with dressing. It was a, "Thank you for supporting my neuroses gift." After all while we do have an almost communal pantry set up with them, this was clearly just weird. They told me it was really good on top of steamed broccoli, so far we have been enjoying it on salad. Julian loved it in the kitchen, happily dipping in red pepper. However as soon as it made it to the table he was done. This has happened before with both my boys and new foods. I think before dinner is served they are hungry enough to be more open minded. I am confident that one day they will both return to all the dishes they loved in the kitchen.
Carrot Ginger Dressing
Adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow
1 large carrot (3 - 4 oz's), coarsely chopped
1 - 2 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh ginger (we seem to prefer 1 Tbsp but make it to your taste)
1 Tbsp sweet white or awase miso (I tried to buy white miso at my local asian market but the owner did not know as he is not a cook, he told me he just stocks what his customers request. I bought the awase, which turns out is a blend of white and red miso).
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp roasted sesame oil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp water
Pulse the carrots and ginger in a blender or mini food processor until finely chopped, scraping down the sided as needed. Add the miso, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil and blend until well combined. Add the extra virgin olive oil and water in a slow stream while the motor is running. Serve on the salad or vegetables of your choice.