Moroccan Baby Carrot Salad Recipe
Carrots tossed in a honey-kissed orange dressing, punctuated by toasted pine nuts, black olives and a hint of cumin.
The last time I went to my favorite "girls-night" potluck, my friend Robin trumped all other offerings by breaking out a bottle of Chateau d'Yquem Sauternes to finish up the evening. Needless to say, I recommend inviting Robin to your parties as well. This time around, I brought a carrot salad. Before you yawn, let me just tell you that I've been fixated with carrot salads after having a delicious version at Boulette's Larder, followed a few weeks later by another delicious version at Piccino. Both completely changed my perception of what a carrot salad could be. So when I came across a version from one of my favorite San Francisco restaurants I couldn't resist trying it.
Today's Morrocan Carrot Salad is a slight riff on the version of the recipe chef Mourad Lahlou of Aziza contributed to the San Francisco version of the 86 Recipe card deck (available later this summer). It has a heady cumin flavor, is tossed in a honey-kissed orange dressing, and is punctuated by toasted pine nuts and black olives. I've become mildly obsessed with Aziza in recent months in part because of the house-made couscous, in part for the amazing Moroccan flavors I've experienced there (absolutely warrants its own post). So, while this post started rooted in a recipe contributed by Mourad, I'd say it turned into a Cali-interpretation of his Moroccan Baby Carrot salad. I intended to follow the recipe to a tee, and well...you know how that goes. Whatever it is, it's delicious.
At the potluck in addition to the Moroccan carrot salad, the five of us contributed to a spread of savory tarts, homemade semolina flatbreads, muhammara dip, good wines, and decadent Burrata cheese. Lulu finished it off with bright and tangy lemon verbena frozen yogurt topped perfect, juicy-sweet, ruby-colored strawberries and thin shortbread wafers (I had seconds, and had to resist thirds). I'll link to those recipes if any of the ladies end up posting about them on their sites.
This photo you see above is a bit of the leftover carrot salad served over some nutty Sardian pasta called fregula. It would be good over couscous, and any number of other grains - wheatberries or pearl barley also come to mind.
Moroccan Baby Carrot Salad Recipe
To be totally honest, I'm nearly always too lazy to peel carrots. I look for fresh bunches of spring carrots, or the smallest, babiest of spring carrots topped with lively, healthy-looking greens. In addition, peeling these guys strips away much of their barely rustic personality - another reason not to bother. I give them a good, hearty scrub, and they are ready to go. I cut back quite a bit on the ground cumin (feel free to use more!) and loaded up on the add-ins here, more than the original recipe calls for - also threw in some crumbled manouri cheese (totally optional) - feta or goat cheese would also do nicely, each in its own way.
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound baby carrots (or spring carrots), washed and cut into halves and/or quarters lengthwise
sea salt to taste
1 tablespoon honey
lemon juice from one lemon
1/2 cup black olives (Moroccan, Kalamata, etc), each torn in half
1/2 cup orange syrup (1 cup orange juice reduced by half over medium heat)
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon mint, chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
Put cumin seeds in a heavy pan over medium heat and toast until fragrant, approximately five minutes. Grind cumin seeds in a spice grinder and set aside. Alternatively, if you don't have a grinder, use pre-ground cumin.
Pour olive oil in a skillet over high heat and add carrots. Cook 2 - 3 minutes. Lower heat to medium and cook another few minutes until the carrots become just barely tender, and loose much of their crunch and raw flavor. Salt to taste.
Drain carrots in a colander to get rid of excess oil.
Transfer carrots to a mixing bowl and add honey, lemon juice, olives, orange syrup and about half of the cumin. Toss gently. Taste, add more cumin if you like.
Just before serving toss in the cilantro, mint and pine nuts. Add a bit more salt to taste if needed. Serve next to your favorite tiny pasta, grain, or rice. Sardinian fregula is shown in the photo at the begining of the post.
Serves 4 to 6.
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After months of arguing, I bought your cookbook for my little sister (and of course one for myself!). She's been a vegetarian since she was 12 and just graduated from high school. Food has always been a healer in our family and the gift of the cookbook did just the trick for us. The carrots look amazing. I leave for a trip to Europe tomorrow and will be using your recipies every time there is a hostel pot luck and spread the word around.
Those baby carrots are just too cute, I'll have to try this recipe.
Hi Heidi, As always, your recipes sound very interesting! I will definitely try this one!
it seems to be easy~ i'll try to do it someday~
This salad is a must try. I'm having some friends over this evening, don't have any pinenuts but I am going to make it anyway.
Holy crap, this recipe has every ingredient I've ever loved all mixed together! And I just happen to have a bunch of carrots to use up at the moment--I am making this tonight!
Your combination of flavours sounds delicious. Last year I visited Morocco and they served us carrots (at room temperature) that had been boiled but were still crunchy and seasoned with cinnamom. Now everytime I roast my vegetables I always add a cinnamom-based spice mix that I bought there. It's incredible how a pinch of spice can give a whole new perspective to our food : )
this looks so yummy. one of my all-time favorite salads is so ridiculously simple: grate carrots, add a bit of orange juice and serve. your recipe pumps up the orange/carrot combo to new heights of deliciousness!
Am I missing it somehow, or are the pine nuts not listed in the list of ingredients? Wondering how much to use....
Woah! I've been to potlucks where Robin was present, but clearly not the right potlucks. What an experience, what a lovely Robin.
that is a good and simple recipe Heidi! Thnx! I can imagine the beautiful flavour imparted by cumin. I have a very handy carrot recipe, that is the next best thing to munching them raw .. and would you believe that it takes only about 5 minutes to make. It is a staple in my fridge .. I call it 'Minty Carrot Relish' http://www.gelskitchen.com/view/recipes/rec/10008/-/
Is there a better food photographer than Heidi? Seriously... Every visit I am more and more impressed.
Susan, Good catch! Yes, I actually had a "leftovers" lunch yesterday, and that is what you see pictured in the photo - the carrot salad served up with a bit of Sardinian fregula pasta. I've updated the head notes, and original post w/ that info. Thanks for the heads up.
Oh, I love Buratta! I had it for the first time while I was with my boyfriend visiting his parents in Italy. It's wonderful with some padina. It's one of the many culinary reasons I'm looking forward to our eventual move to Italy. Your carrot salad sounds like a lovely blend of flavors. I can't wait to make it.
Heidi, Is the recipe missing couscous? What is it I seen in the photo? They look like little tiny beige erasers, but I know they're not!
I was just saying yesterday to a fellow Irish blogger that I don't like carrot salad but maybe I just haven't eaten the right one! I'm with you on the peeling carrots - I hate it. I do the same thing and just buy the ones that need a quick scrub!!
Yum! There's my dinner tonight.
Wow, that salad looks amazing!!! I'll have to make it one day. Lately I have been going to BHG.com for inspiration on meal ideas. Are you guys familiar with it? Its a pretty great resource. I am making this over the weekend, looks delicious. http://www.bhg.com/recipes/recipedetail.jsp?recipeId=R050826
I grew up with the flavors of fragrant couscous and sticky dates from North Africa. Wherever my passion for food takes me I always come back to my roots and this is something that will never change.This carrot salad is a great variation to the original recipe.
I'm growing carrots in an old whiskey barrel just now. Will have to thin the crop down soon. This salad sounds like a wonderful use for the tiny baby carrots I'll be pulling out. Thank you!
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