05 October 2010

A Fairly Fiery Globetrotting Carrot Salad

Back to some salad inspiration.  This one came all the way around the globe and back again.  Apparently originally from Cuisine, but I couldn't find it on their website any more, not to worry as I actually read about it on the Smitten Kitchen, one of my favourite food blogs.  A beautiful and inspiring food blog by Deb who cooks in her tiny kitchen in Manhattan...you should check it out here.  Some really delicious recipes.  
Back to the salad if you are looking for a spicy, fiery hit this could be the salad for you. The paprika and the Harissa give it some heat, in the case of the ready made Harissa I had on hand quite some heat.  But I like it that way so worked for me and then you have the freshness of the mint and parsley and the salty creaminess of the feta.  Yum!  This also kept well for a few days so another good one to make a batch of and then to have on hand to liven up lunches or a light and spicy side for dinner.

Harissa: Considered a staple in North Africa, it is a fiery Tunisian condiment made from a base of red chillies, coriander and cumin seeds.  Variations include caraway seeds, dried mint, garlic, sweet paprika and olive oil.  Typically served as an accompaniment to couscous, kebabs, tagines and stews. It can also be used as a meet rub. The Moroccan version is less complex and uses rehydrated chillies, tomato and salt.  Green chillies, coriander and mint can be added to make fresher, milder, Harissa.

If you want to make your own I came across this recipe...


Makes 600ml
125g dried small red chillies, stems removed
1 tbsp dried mint
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
10 garlic cloves, chopped
125ml olive oil, plus extra to cover

Cover the chillies with boiling water and soak for 10 minutes.  Drain and roughly chop.  Put them in a food processor and add the mint, coriander, cumin, garlic, 1 tbsp of the olive oil and 1/2 tsp of salt.  Process for 20 seconds, scrape own the side of the bowl, then process for another 30 seconds.  With the motor running, gradually add the remaining oil, scraping down the side of the bowl when necessary.
Spoon the paste in to a very clean warm and sterilised jar, cover with a thin layer of olive oil and seal.  It will keep for up to a month in the fridge.

Back to the salad...

Carrot Salad with Harissa,Feta and Mint
Adapted a bit from a reader, who adapted it from her mother, who adapted, most likely, she said, from Cuisine Magazine...to the Smitten Kitchen and finally to me who works on Cuisine Magazine, tis a small world indeed.

3/4 pound carrots, peeled, trimmed and coarsely grated
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 crushed clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds or about half as much, ground 
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds or about half as much, ground (I used at least a teaspoon as a big fan of cumin)
1/2 teaspoon paprika (Again I used a little pinch more)
3/4 teaspoon harissa (Taste first! My Harissa was most definitely on the fiery side! The wee jar looks so unassuming but full of flavour and heat. Then add as much or as little as you like to taste )
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice ( I also added some lemon zest as I love the lift it gives to everything)
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
100 grams feta, crumbled or chopped into bits

In a small sauté pan, cook the garlic, caraway, cumin, paprika, harissa and sugar in the oil until fragrant, about one to two minutes. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Pour over the carrots and mix. Add the herbs and mix. Leave to infuse for an hour and add the feta just before serving.

If you'd like to spice up your salads give this one a go.



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