Recipe: Loxed Carrots

From Ann Hodgman, author of "Vegan Food for the Rest of Us":

"I don't know who first thought of subbing carrots for the fish; it doesn't seem like an intuitive choice. But it sure works!

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

"Carrots taste good right from the start, and you don't have to add a lot of trickery to disguise them. Just realize that salt, smoke, and above all, time are what really make the difference. The carrots need to bake for 90 minutes and then marinate for at least two days. For me, this amount of effort exactly equals the exorbitant cost of real smoked salmon, so it's a fair trade. Besides, roasting things in a bed of salt is fun!

"Most vegan cream cheese is hateful. As of this writing, the best brand by far is made by Kite Hill; also as of this writing, Kite Hill products are only available at Whole Foods. Maybe something even more wonderful and more accessible will have come along by the time you read this."

      
Loxed Carrots
Makes about 3/4 pound -- enough for 4 to 6 bagels.

Ingredients:

5 carrots (the biggest you can find), unpeeled and untrimmed
1 pound kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
1 teaspoon coconut or apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon kelp granules, optional
¼ teaspoon Accent (optional)
Bagels and (preferably) Kite Hill or Miyoko Schinner Vegan Cream Cheese for serving
Capers, red onion, snipped dill, lemon wedges, and whatever else you used to have when you could eat smoked salmon

Directions:

Two days before you plan to serve the lox, preheat the oven to 375°, with a rack in the middle.

Pour half the salt into a 9" by 13" baking dish, preferably one that's non-reactive. Wash and peel the carrots and, while they're still wet, arrange them in the dish so that they're not touching one another or the bottom of the dish. Pour the rest of the salt over the carrots, making sure they're completely buried. Bake, uncovered, for 90 minutes.

While the carrots bake, whisk together the olive oil, Liquid Smoke, vinegar, optional kelp granules, and optional Accent.

Remove the pan from the oven and carefully upend it into a rimmed cookie sheet. Use a heavy knife or ice picker or some such gadget to crack the salt and free the carrots. When they're still warm (but cool enough to handle), gently pry each carrot loose.

When you've freed all the carrots, use a mandoline or sharp knife to slice them lengthwise into strips that are as thin as you can make them. Another finicky chore! Maybe you should listen to an audiobook or binge-watch a series that everyone in the world but you has already seen.

Transfer the carrot strips to a locking container, the kind you can turn upside down without anything leaking out. (If you don't have a container like that, put the strips into a zipper-lock bag.) Then pour the marinade over all, as they say, and seal whichever vessel you're using.

Marinate the carrots in the refrigerator for 48 to 72 hours, turning them every few hours to give them all their fair share of marinade. If you want, take a little nibble occasionally to taste what happens as they transform. At the end of the marinating period, the carrots will have taken on an unexpectedly lush texture very different from the way they started out.

Bring the carrots to room temperature before serving with the bagels, vegan cream cheese, and flavorings.

     
From "Vegan Food for the Rest of Us" by Ann Hodgman. Copyright © 2017 by Ann Hodgman. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

        
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For more food suggestions check out our 2017 "Food Issue" recipe index!