This salad is loosely inspired by a carrot salad I ate during a trip to Morocco a couple of years ago. It was part of our first night’s dinner… a hot night (114 degrees!) on the rooftop of our Riad at sunset. There were marinated vegetable salads, flatbreads, tagines, and a bottle of moroccan rose… all while the evening prayer chanted over a loudspeaker in the distance. We might as well have been on another planet, it felt so surreal. Yet, one of the things I remember most about that night was the carrot salad.
Recently, J.R. Watkins asked me to create a dish using their new line of dried herbs and spices. Since I already buy their natural home products (package designs to die for), I was super excited to try the spices.
Immediately, I knew it was time to make a version of that carrot salad. Beautiful local spring carrots, big squeezes of lemon, and fresh mint perfectly balance the aromatic herbs and spices. I also added some sweet currants, toasted almonds, and some chickpeas and couscous to make it a full meal.
Special thanks to J.R. Watkins for partnering on this post.
- 1 cup chickpeas, cooked and drained
- 1 cup cooked israeli couscous (about 1/2 cup uncooked)
- (sub quinoa if gluten free)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon dried orange peel
- a pinch of cayenne
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- smashed garlic clove
- 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro leaves
- squeeze lemon
- salt & pepper
- 2-3 carrots peeled into ribbons
- 2 tablespoons dried currants
- 2-3 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds
- small handful of fresh mint leaves
- Cook your couscous. Place israeli couscous in a medium pot over medium heat. Before adding water, let it toast (dry) for a minute or so. Fill the pot with enough water to well cover the couscous. Add a pinch of salt, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about 8 minutes. Drain. Toss with a little oil, and set aside.
- In a small skillet add cumin, ginger, orange peel and cayenne. Warm spices in the pan for just 30 seconds or so. Add the olive oil oil (enough to coat), and heat it for 30 seconds until the oil barely comes to a simmer. Remove from heat, scrape the oil & herbs into a small bowl with a smashed clove of fresh garlic (you're going to remove the garlic clove before using the dressing). Let cool for a few minutes and add dried cilantro, salt, pepper & a few good squeezes of lemon.
- Toss half of the dressing of the dressing with cooked chickpeas & couscous. Let it marinate in the fridge for 20 minutes or so while you peel your carrots.
- Remove the garlic clove from the remainder of the dressing. Toss everything together - couscous & chickpeas, carrot ribbons, currants, toasted almonds, and fresh mint. Taste and adjust seasonings.