March 13, 2016

Moroccan Shredded Carrot Salad with Lemon Dressing

As I mentioned in the post on Preserved Lemons, we went to Marrakech last December. It is all still in my head, especially the flavours and sounds and scents of the markets and street food, and I am continue to investigate recipes for dishes that we experienced, as well as those that I regret missing the opportunity to experience.

This carrot salad is modelled after the one that was served to us upon arrival in our riad. As we were scheduled to arrive quite late in the evening, our host offered us the option of booking a dinner so that we could relax and enjoy our first evening, without struggling out into a very unfamiliar sort of place late at night after a day of travel. We gratefully accepted, and were sent a menu to pre-order from. The dinner included a choice of three salads from a list of about seven choices, one two-person tagine from a half-dozen compelling possibilities, and a dessert from again, a handful of options. Bread was of course served automatically on the side (Morocco likes to have bread of some sort at every meal) and wine was also available, despite the riad's owners/operators being muslim themselves.

One of the salads we chose was a shredded carrot with lemon, which arrived neatly domed on a plate. I remarked on how finely grated the carrot was, and how wet the dish overall appeared, as we dug into it. We were delighted with the intensity of the lemon flavour, and it automatically went into my mental "make this!" file. While Morocco is famous for its use of preserved lemon, this recipe uses fresh lemon juice only.

Moroccan Shredded Carrot Salad with Lemon Dressing

Serves 4

3 large or 4 medium carrots
2 tablespoons cilantro or parsley leaves
1 large mint leaf
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar (honey would also be fine)
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon sweet paprika

Peel and finely shred the carrots, and put them in a non-reactive bowl (note that the carrot juice might stain plastic, so best use a glass or ceramic bowl). I used the fine side of a big box grater to do the shredding, which takes a while. If you have a mandoline or other fancy slicer, do whatever gets you the finest possible cut without turning utterly to mush.

Finely chop the cilantro (or parsley) and mint leaf, and stir through the carrot shreds until well distributed.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice with the olive oil, salt, sugar, garlic, cumin, and paprika. Taste the dressing and add more salt if needed. Pour the dressing over the grated carrots, stir well to combine, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours, to give the carrots time to soak up the flavours.

Spoon onto plates, or pack into a teacup or measuring cup (or small bowl) to make a tidy presentation. The juices from the salad may seep out from the edges quite a bit, so be prepared to blot the plate if you want to keep it clean. In the riad, this was served Moroccan style, meaning one each salad was served on a separate plate, from which we served ourselves, rather than the individual portion you see here.

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