I developed a whole new appreciation for salad during my trip, what with the Israeli habit of serving salads with every meal of the day – for two weeks, there was salad with breakfast, salad with lunch, and salad with dinner.
Salad for lunch and dinner, I’m totally on board with, but it did take me a little while to adapt to the idea of a big plate of salad for breakfast. Then again, the Israelis are just as puzzled by the North American habit of eating big chunks of fatty, salty meat with our breakfasts, so I guess we’re even.
Since I just picked the first of this year’s carrots from our little backyard patch, this simple salad with a Morocco-inspired blend of flavours seemed like a perfect way to keep my newfound salad obsession going. A quick blanching brings out the natural sweetness of the carrots, which is then accented with a spicy lemony dressing full of cumin and paprika, while fine shreds of fresh mint to cool the tongue and briny chunks of soft, creamy feta provide a hint of saltiness.
And just to shake things up, I combined a variety of rainbow-coloured heirloom carrots for this dish, including some amazing dark purple ones and pale yellow ones I found at the farmers’ market down the street. It makes for a really pretty presentation, though the flavour is just as good with classic orange if that’s all you’ve got on hand.
I’m not sure if I’d be willing to trade it in for a my favourite breakfast of sunny-side-up eggs with peameal bacon and rye toast just yet, but it’s definitely a nice alternative when I’m in the mood for something different (and perhaps a little less fattening).
Moroccan-ish Carrot Salad
1 lb carrots, peeled and sliced
1 tsp each cumin and caraway seeds
1 tsp spicy paprika
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
Salt and pepper
Handful mint leaves, chopped
Handful crumbled feta
Blanch the carrots for 2 minutes in a large pot of boiling water, then plunge into an ice-water bath to stop the cooking process. Once the carrots are completely cooled, drain and transfer to a pretty salad bowl.
Using a dry skillet, toast the cumin and caraway over high heat for about 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Grind into a fine powder using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.
Combine the cumin and caraway mixture with the paprika and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and honey. Whisk until blended, then pour over the carrots and toss to coat. Set aside to the flavours meld, about 20-30 minutes.
When ready to serve, sprinkle salad with handfuls of chopped mint and crumbled feta.