Smashed Carrot Salad with Garlic and Ginger (with Variations)

2 pounds carrots, trimmed and scrubbed, large carrots sliced lengthwise into approximately 1-inch-thick pieces (see note for other options)
2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed or safflower, or peanut oil
2 teaspoons fine salt, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons black vinegar or rice vinegar, plus more to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
3/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish if desired
2/3 cup coarsely chopped roasted peanuts, for garnish
Chile oil or chile crisp, for serving

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Place carrots on a rimmed sheet pan, and toss with oil and salt. Roast until tender and caramelized, about 10 to 14 minutes.

Remove carrots from the oven. Using the bottom of a glass measuring cup or a heavy mug, lightly press carrots to flatten slightly and smash. (This will create texture when broiling.) Heat broiler, and broil carrots until charred in spots, 2 to 4 minutes.

While the carrots are roasting, make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, ginger and garlic. Whisk until combined, then taste and add more vinegar, soy sauce or brown sugar, if needed.

Pour dressing over charred carrots and toss to combine. Add cilantro and toss. Serve with chopped peanuts and chile oil or crisp, and more cilantro if you’d like.

You can combine all of these into a pungent dressing for roasted carrots or parsnips, inspired by smashed cucumber salads. That same dressing would also be delightful on raw cabbage, or steamed cauliflower or broccoli.

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