Roasted Spiced Carrot and Avocado Salad with Cocoa Nib Vinaigrette

This past week has been amazing to see the response I have gotten with posting everyday. I guess this is what it feels like to be a true blogger, huh? Yes, it might make my weeks a little more hectic, but at the end of the day, I am doing exactly what I love and I wouldn't have it any other way. I've recently realized how lazy I have been with photography. One staged photograph of the final product may look cool, but it is kind of boring without showing the process of how the dishes are made.I have been looking at different supplies to help amp up any food photography outside of the photography tent and a few lights I am using now. This past weekend, I decided that I was going to move at the end of my current lease. While I am staying in Chicago, I am moving over to Lincoln Park and am excited to see where this new chapter leads me. As with every move, I began looking through my belongings and the things that I have accumulated over the past 6 months in Logan Square. I fell upon a bag full of recipes and ingredients from Turntable Kitchen's pairing boxes - the smell of spices overflowed from the bag and threw my taste buds into a frenzy. Flipping through the recipes I found one for a salad, perfect for a summer evening that I knew I would have to try out in the kitchen.


The recipe is fairly straight forward. The only "out of the ordinary" ingredient would have been cocoa nibs. That being said, I did do a little improvising of my own. I did some grocery shopping at Trader Joe's, where they did not have small carrots with the greens still attached. So, I made do with what was available. The more I cook, read cookbooks, and become confident in my own cooking abilities, I have realized how important it is to be able to trust your instincts and make adjustments. Unlike baking, cooking isn't necessarily a science. If you can’t find or don't like a certain ingredient, change it, substitute it, or completely remove it. At the end of the day, you want to make something that you enjoy and will be proud to say you cooked.


My favorite part of this recipe was having an excuse to use my mortar and pestle. I fell across this gem at Costco for $14.99 - no, that is not a joke. I have been looking to buy one for a while but did not want to spend the $50 that most stores charge. Needless to say, it was an easy purchase when I found it for so cheap. Using the mortar and pestle, I ground the coriander and cocoa nibs. It may have been a frivolous step, but it was fun to put in a little extra effort.

Roasted Spiced Carrots

Roasted Spiced Carrot and Avocado Salad with Cocoas Nib Vinaigrette

Recipe from Turntable Kitchen

Ingredients: 3 tablespoons olive oil 1/4 teaspoon cayenne 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme 1 lemon 1 bunch slender carrots (about 8 or so) 2 tablespoons cocoa nibs 1 avocado 2 cups greens (arugula, watercress, frisee or spinach)


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a small bowl combine the olive oil, cayenne, coriander, salt, and thyme.
  3. Place the carrots and the lemon, halved, on a baking sheet. Drizzle one tablespoon of the spice oil over the carrots. Reserve the remaining oil to coat greens.
  4. Roast the carrots and lemon in the oven in the oven for 30-40 minutes, under tender and charred in parts.
  5. Let the lemon cool slightly before adding 2 tablespoons of its juice to the reserved olive oil mixture.
  6. Grind or crush 1 tablespoon of the nibs and add to the olive oil. Stir well.
  7. Toss the greens with just enough dressing to coat.
  8. Place the greens on plates. Add cut up avocado and the roasted carrots. Drizzle more dressing on top if desired and finish by sprinkling the remaining nibs on top.

I really enjoyed this recipe. The only change I would have made was add a little more cayenne pepper - I am a sucker for a kick of spice. I would have really enjoyed having smaller carrots with the greens still attached. I guess that’s the photographer in me talking.

What are some of your favorite summer go to recipes? Any go-tos that you can't live without?