I hope this bright pop of colour is a welcome addition to your inbox today. I know it is a salad, and many of us – with rain either in progress (me) or threatening to do so – don’t feel terribly salady. But a splash of colour on a plate always cheers. And this one doesn’t contain lettuce, so with any luck those of you who only crave salads when you can also wear shorts will be tempted. Mind you, I never wear shorts but I can always eat salad. Go figure.Our sun-filled weekend spent labouring in the garden now seems rather far away. I haven’t sown any carrots this year, but my mint and parsley – used in this recipe – are already very happy with the very Scottish mix of sunshine and showers. That by the way is a euphemism for awfully wet but with an occasional peek of the Big Guy. At least I’ve stopped wearing a jacket. Indoors.
Carrots are one of those crops that gets grown year-round. A staple crop. They are however best in the coming months, starting from now. Sweet, delicate, crunchy, carrots are the one vegetable that most of us seem to like. Whether in a side dish or salad, in a main, as a snack, juice or even sweet, carrots are easily one of our favourite and most versatile vegetables, having both sweet and savoury notes. I even feature them in a porridge! And it’s really good too . ;-)
Of course they are extremely nutritious. Carrots are blessed with not only an heroic amount of the antioxidant vitamin, beta-carotene but also vitamins K, C, Bs 6, 3 and 1, biotin, lots of fibre, potassium and numerous colour-related plant compounds that seem to nip numerous diseases in the bud. Here’s a great link to more nutrition information on this favourite veg. I like them because they taste great. Especially in this raw food recipe, which emphasises their natural sweet goodness.
This is a super recipe to knock up and serve alongside freshly made hummus or other dips. We had a version of this for lunch today with Seven-Seed Spelt Bread, which also features in the main images on this page.
But it is fantastic as a colourful, crunchy side to spiced grilled fish or chicken. Even a pomegranate-basted roast lamb. Basically anything vaguely Middle Eastern or Mediterranean can be eaten in its herbal, sweet company.
I’ve given the recipe that I use for my cancer nutrition workshops, but I have suggested various add-ins that complement. Harissa, the North African chilli paste made with paprika and olive oil, is a typical ingredient for this kind of salad. I like to keep it to a dod on the side to dip my fork into before I scoop up the salad.
And speaking of scoops, why not serve this in lettuce leaves? Or perhaps use a hummus-smeared flatbread to roll around the salad? Oh the possibilities…
Have you been eating salads throughout the winter, or are you strictly a warm-weather salad nosher? What is your favourite year-round vegetable?
A Moroccan Carrot Salad
Cinnamon is not standard in a Moroccan carrot salad. Nor is pomegranate molasses. But the rest does evoke the salads you might be served in any Moroccan café or home.
Like a lot of simple recipes and food ideas this carrot salad can be pimped and tweaked in many ways. I have given additional ideas. Let this be a template rather than a recipe.
5 carrots (about 1 lb/half kilo), cleaned and trimmed
Small palmful of stoned Medjool dates or Deglet Nour dates (the latter are the best kind, imo, being less sweet and less caloric)*
Handful of toasted seeds, such as sunflower, pumpkin or pine nut
Juice of half lemon
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil OR cold-pressed rapeseed oil/canola oil (eg the good stuff)
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses OR maple syrup (if using maple, add a little more lemon juice)
¼ tsp ground cumin (tip: toast and grind your own seeds for best flavour)
good dash each of ground cinnamon and salt – about 1/8 tsp each
Generous handful each of washed mint leaves and flat leaf parsley (Italian parsley)
Optional add-ins: dried sour cherries, dried barberries or mulberries; dry-cure black olives; ½ tsp harissa paste or Turkish pepper flakes/Aleppo pepper flakes; chopped orange/clementine; goats cheese to garnish; preserved lemon (just a little though)
1. Grate the carrot in a food processor or by hand. I like to lay the shreds in a clean tea towel and give it a gentle squeeze, but that’s not necessary. Pop the carrots into a large bowl, adding also the dates and sunflower seeds.
2. Mix the lemon juice, pomegranate molasses or maple syrup, olive oil, cumin, cinnamon and salt. I tend to just pour everything in a jar and give it a good shake. Pour this dressing over the salad and toss through with salad servers or just your hands – you can guess what I opt for. This salad will keep like this for a day or two.
3. Now roughly chop the herbs and add to the salad. Serve with hummus or other dips, good Arabic bread (this looks good), grilled fish or chicken – most anything you like. For a heartier salad to have on its own, I might add white beans or quinoa to this. And a good few pinches of soft goats cheese too. Enjoy!
* basically just not the sugared chopped kind you get in the bakery section of the supermarket. These are nothing like the fat, almost caramel-like, dates I have suggested.
Miss R’s track of the Week is “Eden” from the May 5 release of the EP “1992” by Ben Khan. All the other tracks equally as lush and funky.
Attention Milton Keynes food lovers: Elaine Boddy, the exceedingly lovely and uber-talented (I really should hate her) food blogger at Foodbod, has brought out a range of Middle Eastern dips, as well as vegan sweets (goodness balls!!) and sauces. I have a strong feeling this fledgling venture will take off in a big way, and hopefully those of us not in her area will be able to get our greedy paws on her food. Even if you aren’t near here, do go look at her product range and salivate a little. I want everything on her menu.
And lastly, here is a link to an awesome video telling everyone about the work of the Maggie’s Centre. I’m so proud to be affiliated with this life-changing cancer support charity. They are branching out around the world, so if you are near one, do go in for a cup of tea and a nosey around. You don’t have to have cancer to visit. They are just lovely places to be in. PS if you want to see what the mysterious Mr A looks like, he’s the one doing most of the talking!