I’m one of those people who love a good salad. I always have.
Even in winter.
Take me to dinner, and it’s almost a sure thing that I’ll order a salad as my meal.
It’s more than silly since I eat so much salad at home. When fattoush salad or a roasted beet and goat cheese salad with maple balsamic vinaigrette is on the menu, salad is a sure thing.
As for a fresh well-stocked salad bar, just throw in the towel because I surrender.
This past winter, even with the abundance of fresh salad greens in our house, I haven’t made a salad but a few times. In fact, I’ve wanted anything but salad.
Roasted squashes, thick hearty vegetable soups, and grilled Reuben sandwiches have kept me warm during these almost saladless cold months.
I decide to break the no salad streak today. I have to. We have three heads of green leafy lettuce, one small bag of mixed baby greens, and a few cups of arugula.
I mix a little of each green in a bowl with a homemade miso ginger dressing and top them off with shredded carrots. I finish the bowl out of obligation, but the carrots are what get me to the last forkful.
Carrots coated with dots of miso and ginger.
As a reward for breaking my salad less days, I’m baking a carrot cake inspired by my recent salad covered in a bed of carrots and ginger dressing.
For the cake, I toned down the ginger and add extra grated carrots along with coconut: milk, butter, and flakes. The cake is sweetened with honey, maple syrup, and dates and for a soft crunch, cashews. It’s more like tea bread than traditional carrot cake that is often cloying in its sugar load.
This cake is a perfect balance of sweet and healthy, and I like to smother it with a light lemon cream. While the lemon cream does call for tofu and vegan cream cheese, I have to tell you, it doesn’t taste the slightest bit like soybeans. The flavors of honey, maple syrup, and lemons shine through the tofu cream base.
Now for another slice, I did finish my salad, after all.
Carrot Cake with Lemon Cream
Yield 2-layer 9-inch cake (12-cup capacity), 8 to 10 servings
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil or unsalted butter (melted)
1 cup coconut milk or buttermilk
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 1/2 cups grated carrots
3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup dates (pitted and chopped)
1 cup cashews (coarsely chopped)
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and salt. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer at medium speed. Add the melted coconut oil, coconut milk, honey, maple syrup, vanilla, and lemon juice and zest; beat together at medium speed. Add the flour mixture to the oil mixture and beat at low speed until well combined. Add the carrots, coconut, dates, and cashews, beating at low speed until just combined.
Divide the batter into two well-oiled and lightly floured, 9-inch cake pans. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool completely on wire wracks. Top individual pieces with lemon cream or your favorite frosting and serve.
Yield about 3 1/4 cups
1 (12.3 ounce) package firm Silken tofu
8 ounces cream cheese (I use dairy-free Vegan Gourmet Cream Cheese)
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients and puree until creamy smooth. Refrigerate until an hour before serving.