Sweet cooked carrots are especially sublime when wrapped in warming spices, so it’s no wonder this dish is a staple in some parts of the world. Steamed to tenderness and a jewel-toned hue, the carrots soak up a spicy-sweet marinade with a bright lemon edge. As nutritious as it is colorful, everything in this salad from the carrots to the extra-virgin olive oil carries a flood of cell-protective antioxidants.
This salad is best made with fresh carrots from the market, but still an outstanding way to flatter those storage carrots that linger around for a while. Prepare this a day ahead if you can; it will taste better after the flavors have had a chance to come together. For extra visual drama and Middle Eastern flair, scatter with some toasted, chopped pistachios.
Moroccan Carrot Salad
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and cut in half lengthways, and then into 1/2–inch half-moon slices
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped parsley
- Steam carrots in a steamer basket over boiling water until easily pierced with a fork, about 6 to 7 minutes; they should still have a firm bite to them, and shouldn’t be mushy. Transfer carrots to a large bowl while you make the dressing.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the cumin, paprika, cinnamon, cayenne, lemon juice, honey, and sea salt. Mix well so that the salt is completely dissolved. Whisk in the olive oil.
- Pour the dressing over the carrots. Add the parsley and toss everything to coat thoroughly. Taste for salt and seasoning, and serve at room temperature.
- Carrot-Raisin Salad with Toasted Pistachios. Toast pistachios in a 350˚F oven for 7 to 10 minutes, until fragrant and turning golden brown. Chop and add to the finished salad, along with 1/2 cup golden raisins.
- Orange–Poppy Seed Carrot Salad. Replace the lemon juice with freshly squeezed orange juice. Add 1 tablespoon poppy seeds, and omit the parsley.
- Moroccan Sweet Potato Salad. Replace the carrots with an equal weight of sweet potatoes that have been peeled and cut into a 1/2-inch dice.
When making dressings, always mix the salt with the acid component (usually vinegar or lemon juice) before adding the oil. Salt won’t dissolve well in oil, so the dressing will taste flat if poured right away.
1. Carrots are the best plant-based source of beta-carotene, the precursor for vitamin A.Their richness in silicon aids in calcium metabolism, necessary for healthy bone formation.
2. In Chinese medicine, carrots particularly nourish the stomach, liver, and lungs.
3. Carrots are believed to help expel parasites and discourage harmful gut bacteria.
Competing camps around whether food is best eaten raw or cooked both claim that science is on their side. There are some who say that the less food is cooked, the better, as opposed to those who insist that cooked food is easier to digest and absorb. As things tend to go, the truth lies somewhere in between; it depends on what nutrients you’re looking to absorb. Some foods actually do supply more nutrients to the body when heated, like this Moroccan Carrot Salad’s carotenoids or the lycopene in tomatoes. On the flip side, heat and water diminish water-soluble nutrients like vitamin C . Broccoli and cauliflower have various cancer-fighting properties, out of which some are helped and some are hurt by extensive cooking. What’s a cook to do? Switch it up. Neither is “better” and no vegetable has just a single important nutrient, so enjoy produce that’s raw and cooked for a whole spectrum of health-supporting nutrients.