This former #birthdayprincess had grand plans to bake herself a fancy cake last week and share it with all of you. Julia Turshen’s famously moiiiist “Happy Wife, Happy Life” chocolate cake to be exact with pink sprinkles and something super creative and punny written on it in. (Let’s be real, it was probably going to be “30, and flirty, and thriving!”) The recipe was to be accompanied by a profound post on all the things I’d learned about myself over the past year because, as Kylie Jenner predicted, it was truly a year of “realizing stuff.”
But then I had my birthday party, and said plans were foiled in the best possible way…
Last month, my roommate asked me what I wanted to do to celebrate my 30th. Should we book a private room at one of my favorite restaurants? Hit the club? Go to Vegas? Bossy brunch? Throw a standard Logena fete with Buffalo fingies and some sort of jungle juice? Did I want to return to La Esquina for a 25th fiesta redux?! All of these were excellent options. (Except La Esquina. There’s a 99% chance we’re blacklisted for life after 2012’s table dancing/margarita heist.) But truth be told, they felt like too much.
Girlfriend was tired from #dudediettour travels, and while my fancy eye masks and microcurrent facials may keep me looking 27 (???), I’ve been feeling about 85 lately. The thought of grinding up in the cloob or having to recover from a Logena party hangover made me feel mildly suicidal, so I told Logan I’d prefer to do something a little more low-key. Specifically, I wanted to turn our living room into a pillow fort, crush Rubirosa pizza and Momofuku birthday cake with my clique, and watch Drop Dead Gorgeous.
And that, friends, is exactly what we did. If you’re thinking, “Wow, Serena, that sounds like a magical birthday party,” you are correct! (It was the best party I’ve had since my 13th, when my mom let me and all my friends get slutty grown-up makeovers at the local salon and go to California Pizza Kitchen for dinner by ourselves!!!) So much laughter, and rolling around, and feasting. Dear GOD, the feasting. I have no regrets (duh), but there was a mildly terrifying quantity of pizza consumed, and the fact that Logan decided to surprise me with a second Momofuku cake—the salted pretzel cake, in case fellow cake fetishists are curious—really put me in the hurt locker.
Come Monday morning, I’d gone full Oompa-Loompa, and the thought of making/eating another cake seemed irresponsible at best. So, I went in a decidedly healthier direction with my birthday cooking, taking a literal leaf out of clean queen Lily Kunin’s new book Good Clean Food: Super Simple Plant-Based Recipes for Every Day and whipping up this epic Moroccan Chickpea and Carrot Salad.
This is one of those recipes that I’ll make on the reg for several reasons. First and foremost, the layers of flavor in this salad are glorious. The earthy sweetness of carrots and crispy chickpeas roasted with a combo of warming spices is delightful, yes, but it’s the addition of toasted almonds, fresh parsley and zippy lemon that elevates this dish from “really good” to “holy shit!” Second, it only calls for a handful of basic ingredients (the one mildly obscure requirement is turmeric, which I recommend picking up given its versatility and trendiness) and about 10 minutes of hands on prep. Last but not least, the salad is very pretty (you know I’m a sucker for pretty things) and can be served six sexy ways to Sunday. You can eat it on its own or over greens as Lily recommends, but it’s also great with hummus (as pictured), added to grain bowls, or served alonside your favorite meat or fish.
This powerhouse salad was the perfect rejuvenating sassy desk lunch for a struggling birthday princess, and I highly recommend a.) making it ASAFP, and b.) picking up a copy of Lily’s book, which is loaded with more than 100 simple, deliciously clean recipes like this one. (Think x, y, z) If you want to get a feel for Lily’s beautiful aesthetic and cooking style, take a peek at her droolworthy Instagram. It may seem impossible, but her book is even more gorgeous, and it will get you all kinds of psyched to work more plant-based meals into your regular rotation. Trust me. I’m 30, and I know things.
Moroccan Chickpea and Carrot Salad: (Serves 4)
1 bunch of rainbow carrots, washed and trimmed
1 small red onion, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one 15-ounce can, rinsed and drained)
2 tablespoons coconut oil (in liquid form)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
Dash of cayenne
Sea salt or pink salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon, plus more for serving
¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
¼ cup parsley, roughly chopped
Preparing your Moroccan Chickpea and Carrot Salad:
-Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and set aside. Cut the carrots into ¼-inch rounds, and place them on the baking sheet along with the onion, chickpeas, and coconut oil. Toss well and add the spices, salt, and pepper.
-Roast for 25 to 35 minutes, tossing halfway, until caramelized and cooked through. Remove from the oven and toss with a drizzle of olive oil and squeeze of lemon. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add more olive oil and lemon as needed.
-Stir in the toasted almonds and parsley.
-Serve alone or over hummus (or greens!) with an additional squeeze of lemon.
- 1 bunch of rainbow carrots, washed and trimmed
- 1 small red onion, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one 15-ounce can, rinsed and drained)
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil (in liquid form)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- Dash of cayenne
- Sea salt or pink salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
- Juice of ½ lemon, plus more for serving
- ¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
- ¼ cup parsley, roughly chopped
- -Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and set aside. Cut the carrots into ¼-inch rounds, and place them on the baking sheet along with the onion, chickpeas, and coconut oil. Toss well and add the spices, salt, and pepper.
- -Roast for 25 to 35 minutes, tossing halfway, until caramelized and cooked through. Remove from the oven and toss with a drizzle of olive oil and squeeze of lemon. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add more olive oil and lemon as needed.
- -Stir in the toasted almonds and parsley, and serve alone or over hummus (or greens!) with an additional squeeze of lemon.
Recipe from Good Clean Food: Super Simple Plant-Based Recipes for Every Day by Lily Kunin.