Sunday, July 6, 2014

Summer Carrot Salad from Tunisia

There are cooked carrot dishes or raw carrot salads. But the recipe I would like to share today is for a salad that is made from cooked carrot and, as all salads, it is served cold. It comes from the Tunisian culinary tradition.

I have been reading about this salad in different Mediterranean and African cookbooks and always had the impression that it was worth trying. Last week, I bought a large bag of organic carrots and turned them into a bowl of cooked carrot salad.

It is a simple salad but the several recipes for it I read differed somewhat in that they called for slightly different spices. I tried the oldest recipe, which seemed most classical, and made some additions to it.

Cooked carrot, marinated in all the ingredients, turned out light, slightly spicy, and very aromatic. I think that using harissa (Middle Eastern spicy paste available in most oriental food stores), which has more flavor than cayenne pepper that is used in some recipes, made big difference. I also liked it better with cilantro rather than parsley. In some recipes, this salad was finished with yogurt but mine was made with feta cheese which I also liked better.

The salad can be made ahead, which makes it a great party salad. I marinated mine overnight. It is a perfect summer dish and a great accompaniment to grilled meats, especially those prepared in Middle Eastern or Mediterranean style.

Summer Carrot Salad from Tunisia

1 lb carrot, preferably organic,
1-2 tsp harissa, depending on how spicy you like it,
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice,
2 cloves garlic, minced,
2 tsp ground caraway seeds,
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped,
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil,
1/2 cup Feta cheese,

1. Peel off the carrots and cut them into thick slices. Place in a medium pot, cover with water, add 1 tsp of salt and cook for about 20 minutes until soft but still tender. Drain the water if any is left and cool the carrot to room temperature.

2. In a small bowl stir garlic, harissa, lemon juice, caraway seeds, olive oil. Mix all the ingredients.

3. Transfer cooked carrot to a cutting board and chop it with a knife into smaller pieces. Transfer it to a medium bowl, drizzle with dressing, add chopped cilantro and mix. Let the salad marinate for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
4. Before serving sprinkle with crumbled Feta pieces.