Friday, November 30, 2012

Moroccan Raw Carrot Salad

According to one source, carrots originated in Afghanistan or Iran, where there is still a wide variety of wild carrots growing today.  Initially, people cultivated carrots for their leaves and seeds, not their taproots.  Eventually, people realized that those roots are edible and, as with many things, the planting and cultivation of carrots spread around the world.  The references to carrots in Europe can be found as early as the 11th and 12th centuries, when people like Ibn al'Awwam, an Arab Andalusian agriculturist, wrote about red and yellow carrots in his treatise, Kitab al-Filaha, which is considered to be an important medieval work in the field of agriculture.

This raw carrot salad recipe is inspired by the cuisine of peoples who reside just south of Andalusia ... in Morocco. I made this recipe as part of a dinner that I prepared for Clare's parents during a recent visit. The main dish was Djej Mechoui, a whole grilled chicken marinated in a Moroccan spice rub.  I also needed a side dish or sald.  I perused several cooking websites looking for Moroccan side dishes.  I came across a recipe for a raw carrot salad, which is kind of like a combination of a side dish and a salad. 

This use of raw carrots intrigued me.  Personally, I am not a big fan of the taste of a raw carrot and, if I can avoid eating them, then I do.  However, the use of spices (cumin, ginger, cinnamon, coriander, pepper and allspice), along with the citrus juice, transformed the raw carrots in this dish.  They provided a range of flavors that mask the flavor of the raw carrot, making the root vegetable more palatable.   In the end, I really liked this salad.

Recipe from Bon Appetit
Serves 6 to 8

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped 
1 pound of carrots, peeled, coarsely grated
4 cups mixed baby greens
1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced

1.  Make the dressing.  Combine the first seven ingredients (cumin, ginger, cinnamon, coriander, cayenne, allspice and cloves) in a non-reactive bowl.  Whisk in the olive oil, orange juice, lemon juice and mint.

2.  Add the carrots and greens.   Add the carrots and greens.  Toss the ingredients.

3.  Plate the dish.  Plate the carrots and greens.  Garnish with the onions.


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