Saturday, July 31, 2010

Moroccan carrot salad

I've been on a lookout for good carrot recipes lately, since I tend to come home from the market with at least one bunch every week. This is one of the more interesting ones, and led to my first taste of harissa, which is a very delicious chile paste that would be a welcome addition to a great many dishes. The harissa gives the dish some heat, which is balanced by the coolness of the mint and the sweetness of the carrots. Nothing is too overpowering here - the salad has a really nice blend of flavors. I found this recipe over on Smitten Kitchen, and thought it would be a good way to use some of the mint that my mother-in-law gave us from her garden. The original recipe calls for feta cheese, which is great, but I didn't have feta around, so I tried using olives to contribute some saltiness, with good results. A combination of olives and feta would be good too. I've been mentally toying with the idea of trying a variation using these spices with either roasted or sauteed carrot coins, to change up the texture and shape of the vegetable a little here, or maybe just wilting the shredded carrots a bit in a saute pan. Let me know if you try any variations on this. This salad keeps really well, and I've enjoyed it for lunch in a pita with some hummus.


Moroccan carrot salad

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Serves 4-5
3/4 pound carrots, peeled*, trimmed and coarsely grated
4 tbs olive oil
1 crushed clove of garlic
1/2 tsp caraway seeds or 1/4 tsp, ground
3/4 tsp cumin seeds or about half as much, ground
1/2 tsp paprika
3/4 tsp harissa, a North African chile paste
1/2 tsp sugar
3 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs parsley, finely chopped
2 tbs fresh mint, finely chopped
1/3 cup chopped olives or feta cheese (or a combination)

In a small pan, cook the garlic, spices, harissa and sugar in the olive oil for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Remove pan from heat, discard garlic, and add the lemon juice and a generous pinch of salt. Pour oil/spice mixture over the carrots, add olives, and mix. Add the herbs and mix again. Make sure to salt to taste before eating. This salad keeps well for a few days in the fridge.

*I usually don't bother peeling carrots unless the skins are especially thick or rough

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