North African Cooked Carrot Salad

The play of sweet cooked carrot and tangy dressing makes this easy traditional North African salad a favorite. I like to serve it Sephardi-style: that is, along with the appetizers, then left on the table during the rest of the meal, a welcome counterpoint to the panoply of rich Rosh Hashanah foods to follow.

Ingredients

For the Dressing

  • About 3 tablespoons best-quality extra virgin olive oil
  • About tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • About 1 teaspoon ground cumin, preferably freshly toasted and ground
  • About 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • About 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • About ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • About ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper,
  • Cayenne (optional)

For the Salad

  • 1 pound sweet-tasting carrots, preferably organic and/or locally grown, scraped
  • Salt
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley or cilantro

Method

Prepare the dressing: in a large bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, paprika, mint, cinnamon, coriander, salt and pepper, and cayenne, if using, to taste.

You can cut the carrots into ½-inch rounds, on the diagonal—a common method—or, even better, take a few moments extra to cut them into thick matchsticks, so there is more surface area to drink in the dressing. To do this, use either the julienne blade of the food processor, a mandoline, or cut by hand, quartering the carrots lengthwise first, then slicing them into even sticks.

Cook the carrots in lightly salted boiling water until they are tender but still crisp. Drain them (the liquid would be a nice addition to the Vegetable Stock), and while they are still warm, toss them with the dressing. For best taste, let the flavors marry for at least a couple of hours.

Taste and adjust the oil, lemon juice, or seasoning, if needed. Sprinkle with the parsley or cilantro just before serving.

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