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Moroccan salads

A variety of warm Moroccan salads are prepared with fresh vegetables and spices. 

This week’s recipes — all warm salads with fresh vegetables — are easy-to-prepare side dishes in the Moroccan tradition of Ronit’s family.

“Growing up, our dinner or lunch would start with warm salads of all kinds: spiced carrots, roasted chili pepper with lemon and garlic, flatbread with zahtar, zaalouk with roasted eggplants,” Ronit recalls. “We never had any frozen food or snacks – everything my mother made was fresh.”

“I was always impressed by her natural confidence in the kitchen. She never used any written recipes.”

Every week, Ronit and her mother would go to the local souk, or market, to buy fresh vegetables and spices. The spice merchants there always ground their wares to order — from basics such as paprika and cayenne to the classic Moroccan seasonings harissa (a spicy blend of chilis, cumin and garlic) and ras el hanout ( a complex and fragrant mixture of peppers, warm spices and rosebuds).

“There were no little jars of spice in our kitchen, only large containers,” Ronit says.

Nowadays, inspired by her mother’s cooking, Ronit blends her own versions of these seasonings for Whole Spice, where we grind them two ways: coarse and fine.

And at home with our sons, we often enjoy one, two or all three of these warm side dishes with the family meal.

Moroccan Zaalouk Salad (roast eggplant, tomato and bell pepper)

Serves 2-4

2 eggplants

1 large tomato

1 red bell pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. Whole Spice Harissa Coarse

1/4 tsp. salt

1/8-1/4 tsp. cayenne chili powder (optional for extra heat)

Parsley leaves for garnish

Set the oven to broil.

Pierce eggplants several times with a fork and place on a rimmed baking sheet.

Broil, turning every 5 minutes, until skin is blackened all over and flesh is very soft, about 40 minutes.

Remove from oven and let stand until cool enough to handle.

Place bell pepper and tomato on a rimmed baking sheet and broil for 20 minutes on each side, or until roasted.

Remove tomato and bell pepper from oven, place in a plastic bag and seal the bag. (This helps to remove the skin faster.)

When eggplants are cool enough to handle, peel off and discard blackened skin and place flesh in the bowl of a food processor.

Peel skin off the roasted tomato and bell peppers, chop them and add them to the food processor bowl.

Pulse briefly to combine.

In a nonstick skillet over medium heat, add olive oil, minced garlic, harissa and the vegetable mixture.

Sauté for few minutes and add salt. Add cayenne, if using.

Stir gently for an additional 3 minutes on medium-low heat and place in a serving bowl.

Decorate with parsley leaves and serve with toasted flatbread.

Moroccan Beet Salad

3 medium beets

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. chopped parsley

1/2 tsp. Whole Spice Roasted Cumin Powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/4 tsp. black pepper

In a three-quart saucepan, boil some water.

Add beets and simmer until they are tender when pierced with a fork, about 40 minutes.

Cool, peel, and cut beets into bite-size pieces.

Place in a serving bowl.

Add garlic, cumin, salt, olive oil, lemon juice and black pepper.

Toss and then let stand for a few hours.

Just before serving, sprinkle with parsley.

Moroccan Spiced Carrot Salad

5 medium-sized carrots, peeled

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. Whole Spice Harissa Coarse

1/4 tsp. Whole Spice Roasted Cumin Powder

1/8 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tsp. water

1 tsp. chopped parsley

Place water in a 3-quart saucepan and bring to a boil.

Add carrots, and simmer until they are tender when pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes. Cool. Cut carrots into bite-size pieces and place in a serving bowl.

In a small bowl, combine: garlic, harissa, roasted cumin, salt, pepper, lemon juice and water.

Heat up a nonstick pan and add olive oil.

Add the seasoning mixture to the pan, then gently fold the cooked carrots into the mixture.

Simmer on medium heat, without stirring, until the carrots are coated with spice

Place in a salad bowl and add parsley.

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