Spicy Moroccan Carrot Salad

Moroccan Carrot Salad

This simple recipe takes the humble carrot and turns it into something significantly less humble.  It’s as if the carrot has had counselling and found itself a huge dose of self-esteem and no-one is EVER going to put carrot in the corner!

Ok, I may have indulged in a little hyperbole there but this really is a wonderful salad.

Please don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients, most of them are spices and you probably have them in your cupboard already.  If you don’t it is worth buying them because they are staples that crop up time and time again in tasty recipes and they really help to lift even the most mundane meals.  Try cinnamon in your porridge, or ginger in a smoothy.  Cumin and Coriander go well in savoury pancakes or winter stews.  If you keep your spices in sealed containers in a cool, dark place they will last for ages so it is worth the (modest) investment.

Preserved lemon is a little more unusual but you could always make your own!  Recipe here.

The otriginal recipe is from Plenty by Ottolenghi.

Ingredients

Serves 4

1kg Carrots

80ml Olive Oil

1 Onion

1 tsp Caster Sugar

3 Garlic Cloves (crushed)

2 Green Chillies (finely chopped)

1 Spring Onion

1/4 tsp Ground Cloves

1/4 tsp Ground Ginger

3/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Ground Coriander

1 tsp Sweet Paprika

1 tsp Ground Cumin

1 tbsp White Wine Vinegar

1 tbsp chopped Preserved Lemon

40g Chopped Fresh Coriander

120ml Greek Yoghurt

Salt

Method

Peel and slice the carrots.  I cut them lengthways but you could cut them into cylinders or semi-circles depending on the size of the carrots.

Put the carrots in a saucepan and just cover with water, add salt and bring to the boil.  Simmer for around 5 to 10 minutes (depending on how you cut them) until just tender but with some crunch left in them.  Drain in a colander and set aside to dry out.

Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onions over a medium heat until soft and slightly brown.  Add the cooked carrots to the onions with the rest of the ingredients except the yoghurt and fresh coriander.  Stir well, season with salt and remove from the heat.  Leave to cool.

Before serving stir in most of the coriander, serve with a dollop of yoghurt, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of the reserved fresh coriander

 

 

Beetroot and Orange Salad

Beetroot & Orange Salad

Sometimes, when I am cooking for the blog, I will have tried the recipe out a few times then, when I am happy with it, I will make it for the photo.  Then I will faff about with it a bit, taking shots, pretending I know what I am doing.  Then I’ll download the photos onto my laptop only to find that (if I am lucky) I have one or two acceptable photos out of the 200 or so that I took.  Then I’ll clean up the kitchen.  By time I have done all this the last thing I want to do is eat the food.

Not so in this case.  I couldn’t keep my hands off it!

I love the beautiful colours, the fresh, zingy flavours, the textures, everything.  I love everything about this salad and I hope you do too.

I have made variations of it in the past (beetroot and orange are a classic combination) but this is definitely my favourite.  It comes from Plenty by Ottolenghi and if you like this salad you should definitely check out the book (your local library may have it).

I admit to cheating.  I only cook beetroot from scratch when I have grown them.  If I am buying beetroot I buy it pre-cooked and vacuum packed; it is much less messy and I think it tastes fine – just make sure you don’t buy pickled beetroot!

Ingredients

Serves 2

400g Raw Beetroot (or a 250g pack of pre-cooked beetroot)

2 Oranges

1 Red Endive (chicory)

1/2 small Red Onion (thinly sliced)

3 tbsp Chopped Parsley

40g Black Olives

3 tbsp Rapeseed Oil

1 tsp Orange Blossom Water

1 1/2 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar

Salt & Pepper

Method

If you are using raw beetroot you will need to cook them first.  Put them, whole, into a saucepan, cover with cold water, bring it to a boil and then simmer for 1 – 2 hours until tender.  Leave them to cool down in the water.  Once cool remove them from the water and peel them.

Cut each cooked beetroot in half and then each half into wedges about 1cm thick at their base.  Put the wedges into a mixing bowl.

Segment the oranges.  Peel them with a sharp knife and, holding each orange over the mixing bowl, remove the segments by slicing between the membranes.  Let the segments and juice fall into the mixing bowl.  Discard the membrane.

Cut the endive vertically into 2cm thick slices.  Break them up into individual leaves and add them to the bowl.

Finally add the rest of the ingredients, toss together and adjust the seasoning, then serve.

Marinated Beetroot Salad with Goat’s Cheese

Marinated Beetroot Salad with Goats CheeseThis recipe is part of a series of recipes featuring beetroot.

Roasted beetroot, like many roasted root vegetables has an amazing natural sweetness. But, unlike its friends, it also has a rich earthy quality which works wonderfully well with a little sharp vinegar and creamy goats cheese.

My youngest daughter dislikes beetroot intensely and she has a different take on this “earthy quality” and would say that beetroot tastes like soil but I’m not sure that’s the best way to sell it to you…

Anyway, if you like beetroot and you like cheese you’ll love this simple salad which makes a lovely starter on a late summer menu.

Ingredients

1 Goat’s cheese Log or 2 round Goat’s Cheeses

4 whole, pre-roasted Beetroot

6 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 tbsp White Balsamic Vinegar

1 heaped tsp Thyme Leaves

1 tsp Honey

Salt & Pepper

Method

Slice the beetroot into thin rounds. If you want to impress with your presentation it is worth using a mandolin to get very thin, even slices.

Make the marinade by whisking together the olive oil, vinegar, thyme and honey. Season with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Pour the marinade over the beetroot and cover for at least 1 hour.

Just before you are ready to serve arrange the beetroot slices on individual serving plates and drizzle over any remaining marinade.

Slice the goat’s cheese into portions and place, on a baking sheet, under a hot grill until browned and bubbling. Serve on top of the marinated beetroot. If you like you can garnish it with extra thyme or a few leaves of peppery rocket.

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Smoked Trout and Avocado Salad

Smoked TroutWe seem to have a bit of an avocado thing going on at the moment.  I buy them every time I shop and they are stacked up in the fruitbowl amidst the apples and bananas until they reach perfect ripeness.

Some of them go into a simple guacamole, Martin will often peel one and just eat it with a bit of soy sauce and balsamic vinegar (who knew?) and they regularly end up in a mixed green salad along with bits and pieces from the allotment.

But sometimes they need to be added to something just a little bit special and this salad, with soft, smokey, succulent trout is definitely special.

If you have only ever bought smoked fish vacuum packed from a supermarket then I beg you to try buying from a specialist smoker – the taste is quantifiably different but you won’t believe the texture.  It is soft and moist like perfectly cooked fresh fish should be and not even slightly dried out.  I bought this trout from Nigel at Cornish Cuisine.  If you are lucky enough to live in Cornwall you will find him at Truro, Falmouth or St. Ives Farmer’s Markets – if not you can order on-line.

This dish is so simple that it barely needs a recipe but it is so delicious that I served it as a starter for Martin’s birthday meal and it didn’t disappoint.

I have given the ingredients for two people as a starter but scale it up or down according to numbers and appetites – it also makes a lovely light lunch with some crusty bread.

Ingredients

For two people as a starter.

1 Smoked Trout Fillet

1 medium (ripe) Avocado Pear

A handful of Pea Shoots

3 Radishes – thinly sliced.

Fresh Dill

The juice of 1 Lemon

1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tbsp Horseradish Sauce

Salt & Pepper

Method

Put the lemon juice into a medium sized bowl.

Halve, peel and stone the avocado and cut it into chunky slices.  Place the slices in the bowl with the lemon juice and toss to coat (this will stop the avocado turning brown).  Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Arrange the avocado slices onto a serving plate or plates (reserving any remaining lemon juice).

Remove the skin from the trout and break it into generous pieces and arrange on top of the avocado.  Garnish with the radish slices, pea shoots and dill fronds.

Stir the olive oil into the left over lemon juice and drizzle the dressing over the prepared salad.  Top with a spoonful of horseradish sauce.

Serve as it is or with some brown bread and butter.

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Super Salads

tn_Carrot, Asparagus and Goats Cheese SaladWhen I say salad what do you think of?  A limp and uninspired side salad, masquerading as one of your five a day?  Or a plate full of lovely, crisp vegetables dressed in something sweet and sharp and smooth?  For me, a salad is a thing of infinite variety and colour, a thing of beauty, taste and texture.  If you think I am getting a little carried away you need to understand where I started.

When I was growing up we didn’t eat salad with something, salad was a meal in itself and it was pretty much the same every time we ate it – a circle of soft, limp lettuce leaves topped with cucumber, tomato, spring onions and hard boiled eggs.  The eggs themselves would have been sliced in one of those little devices where the egg nestles safely in a grooved plastic hollow, blissfully unaware of the carnage descending upon it in the form of razor sharp wires like some miniature guillotine dealing harsh justice in the egg revolution.  OK now I am getting carried away but these were the sort of games I played when I was eight!

In the centre of the plate would be some slices of cheese, or tinned ham or possibly Spam or corned beef.  You will notice the use of the word “or”, it was a rare event indeed to see ham and cheese on the same plate.  This joyful plate of food would be drizzled liberally with salad cream and served with bread and butter and sunshine – always there was sunshine.  Did I say “joyful”?  Yes I did because I really liked having salad for tea (that’s dinner for my Southern readers).  I liked that my dad had probably grown the lettuce and tomatoes, I liked being able to help make the meal and I liked salad cream.  If you have never eaten a salad cream sandwich you have never lived! tn_Salad

The salads I make now tend to be a little more adventurous:  Moroccan spiced roasted carrots with rocket and sunflower seeds, shaved fennel and orange segments or, what is lovingly dubbed, the super salad.  The super salad is really just a big bowl full of all the vegetables and leaves I have to hand.  The one in the photo had asparagus, beetroot, avocado, rocket, baby herbs, roasted carrots and the tail end of some goats cheese that was sitting in the fridge feeling unwanted.  The whole thing was tossed in a simple dressing made from olive oil and lemon juice which enhanced rather than masked the other flavours. Finally I topped it with some toasted walnuts to add a little crunch.

Is this a recipe?  Not really because salads give you the perfect opportunity to experiment.  Try interesting combinations based on what’s in season (or even what is in the fridge).  I will never make that exact salad again because I didn’t weigh anything or measure anything – I just piled it all in a bowl, dressed it and served it.  It was delicious but if I am totally honest it would probably have been better withoiut the avocado in this instance.  The goats cheese and walnuts made it a complete meal in itself but we ate it with some simple roast chicken and new potatoes so it felt really indulgent.

When it comes to dressing a salad you can experiment again.  The basic recipe for an oil based dressing is 3 parts oil to 1 part acid (vinegar or lemon juice).  To that you can add other flavours; salt & pepper, a little mustard or Worcestershire sauce for depth and maybe some sweetness in the form of honey or fruit juice etc.  Add a little and taste it – trust your palate and invent something scrummy.

So would I ever use salad cream again?  You bet I would – it’s delicious – try it in a potato salad instead of mayonnaise – you’ll never look back.

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