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Date and carrot salad with Moroccan spiced dressing

May 29, 2018

A chopping board with carrots, herbs, dates and a plate of date and carrot salad

“Carrots should not be in salad.” Another food commandment from KP that I’m still coming to terms with. My crime was adding some little chunks of local, organic, sweet, crunchy ones into a green salad. And he says he’s not fussy.

On the search for savoury date recipe inspiration I found Moroccan carrot salad in many incarnations. I was intrigued to know what made it so particular to that country.

The recipes in Paula Wolfert’s heavy tome The Food of Morocco infers that cooked carrot salads are very popular. She specifies that steaming the carrots is essential to retain their flavour, yields a soft and creamy texture, plus they soak up the spices more readily than if boiled. Parsley, lemon juice, cinnamon and cumin feature in all three of her recipes.  She also has a raw carrot salad paired with orange flower water and sultanas.

Claudia Roden in A New Book of Middle Eastern Cooking also has a boiled carrot salad and a grated carrot one she discovered from a Moroccan chef on a kibutz, which uses raisins or sultanas.  Orange blossom water, fresh coriander and lemon juice make the orange and carrot salad sound deliciously refreshing, but again no dates in sight. There are three orange salads which she attributes to Morocco too.

A chopping board with carrots, herbs and a plate of date and carrot salad

In Ottolenghi’s books (yes I have them all), he combines dates with salad leaves in several guises; nuts, pomegranate molasses, sumac, ewe’s cheese, finely sliced onions, orange blossom water, oranges and a cinnamon, fennel, lemon juice dressing are used in various combinations.

Greg and Lucy Malouf’s recipe of honey-roasted carrots with dates and dandelions – in New Feast, a book of modern, Middle Eastern, vegetarian recipes – has a Moroccan dressing which is a tart with lemon and almost savoury with spice. It’s so good I’ve shared a version below but doubled the quantity.

So this recipe is a guide which you can mix up. Use almonds or pistachios instead of hazelnuts, stir in segments of orange where the membrane has been removed and the cells of juice are exposed, shower with different herbs (coriander or finely chopped mint would be excellent), other cheeses (grilled halloumi?) or even marinate 100g of dates in a tablespoon of white wine vinegar with 1/2 a finely sliced red onion for 20 minutes (a la Ottolenghi).

My bunch of local, organic carrots from Greenheart were crying out to be left raw, so that’s where I started and added to other things I had in the house (including Balqees Orange Grove raw honey fusion in the dressing). Whether you chop, grate, dice or spiralise your carrots is entirely up to you. I made tiny slivers of mine for maximum crunch.

Did KP like it? He didn’t get a chance to try it.

Date and carrot salad with Moroccan spiced dressing

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A healthy, crunchy version of a Moroccan spiced classic which is good on its own, as part of a mezze board or as an accompaniment to grilled cheese or meat


Swap in different leaves, like baby spinach, nuts such as almonds or pistachios, herbs like coriander and other lactic soft cheeses. Orange segments are a good option too.

Ingredients

Salad dressing

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 30ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika (unsmoked)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried chilli seeds or crumbled dried chilli
  • a good grinding of black pepper
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of raw honey
  • a few drops of orange blossom water

Salad

  • a handful of hazelnuts
  • 2 handfuls of baby salad leaves
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 10 dates approximately (depending on their size – you’ll need fewer if using Medjool)
  • a few sprigs of fresh herbs such as thyme, chives or flat-leaved parsley
  • 4 tablespoons of goat’s curd (or other fresh, lactic soft cheese)

Directions

  1. Make the salad dressing. Crush the garlic and put into a lidded jar with the sea salt. Use a teaspoon to mash together a bit. Add the juice of the lemons and the olive oil. Measure in the spices, black pepper and give it all a good shake to combine. Add the smallest amount of raw honey and orange blossom water, shake and then taste. Adjust to the way you like it (a little goes a long way with the perfumed water).
  2. Toast the hazelnuts in a dry pan over a medium flame, stirring until they are very lightly browned. Cool and chop very roughly.
  3. Wash and dry the salad leaves and place in a bowl.
  4. Peel the carrots then grate, spiralise or chop very finely and arrange over the leaves.
  5. Tear or chop the dates into small bite-sized pieces (quarters for smaller dates) and scatter over the salad, followed by the chopped hazelnuts.
  6. Crumble the cheese or curd (more of a dotting of the latter) over the whole lot and drizzle with half the salad dressing reserving the rest to add to your plate if you want more.
  7. Serve and eat immediately.

A chopping board with carrots, herbs and a plate of date and carrot saladHave you ever used dates in a salad? Can anyone from Morocco shed some light on the origins of this salad or when it is eaten? I’d love to know.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. May 29, 2018 12:44 pm

    That sounds delicious!

  2. May 29, 2018 12:59 pm

    That dressing sounds fab. Don’t listen to KP when it comes to food. Or musical theatre…

    • May 29, 2018 2:57 pm

      Ha ha – good point… on the compatibility front we’re opposites on that one. If I have to hear Les Mis one more time…

  3. Dannii permalink
    May 29, 2018 4:29 pm

    I love making a carrot salad and we usually just have it to coriander. I love the idea of adding dates to it.

  4. Mom's Dinner permalink
    May 29, 2018 4:47 pm

    What a beautiful recipe! I love carrots and the addition of sweet dates, hazelnuts and salty goat cheese just takes it over the top. I am saving this for my next entertaining dinner!

  5. May 29, 2018 4:59 pm

    Wow, this dressing sounds amazing!! I def want to give this a try! Thank you for this lovely recipe!

  6. Natanja @ Home Baked Bliss permalink
    May 29, 2018 5:41 pm

    This salad sounds amazing! I love the combination of sweet and savoury in a salad. This is the perfect recipe for using those carrots I have growing in my garden. Thank you!

  7. May 29, 2018 5:54 pm

    Such a beautiful salad! I love all the color and am a particular fan of carrot salads. That dressing sounds wonderful.

  8. kstienemeier permalink
    May 29, 2018 6:58 pm

    Love Moroccan carrot salad Bethany Kehdy has one in The Jewelled Kitchen I like to make. Must give this one a try!

  9. May 30, 2018 1:05 pm

    I never used dates in a salad but I am familiar with figs in salads, so I can see how dates can work similarly. Carrot – raw, crunchy – is a friend! To me it’s a total yes in salads! When I was little my mom would make me eat raw carrot salads with lemon juice and sugar. We almost treated it like a fruit salad. it was delicious!

  10. May 30, 2018 11:03 pm

    I am not in the habit of using dates in salads, but why not substitute them for raisins anytime? this recipe sounds very good.

  11. May 31, 2018 6:15 pm

    I have to say that the presentation of this dish is simply stunning, Ottolenghi himself would be proud! It looks very healthy, I’m trying to get in better shape for Summer so would definitely consider trying this

  12. May 31, 2018 7:12 pm

    Sounds lovely!

  13. June 2, 2018 12:13 pm

    Somehow I knew you’d have all of Ottolenghi’s books. Your spiced carrot and date combination sounds delicious – unusual and a great addition to any summer table

  14. June 5, 2018 2:26 pm

    We are massive fans of Moroccan-ish carrot salads. I make a particular one for work throughout the year, just changing out the dried fruit and dressing options. I too have taken inspiration from the likes of Roden, Ottolenghi, and also Diana Henry. Your flavour-layered take looks amazing. KP is really missing out. 🙂

    • June 7, 2018 7:18 am

      Your spicy salads always look so inviting Kellie. I bet there is never a boring salad in your house ever.

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  1. Orange and date fruit salad with loads of options | My Custard Pie

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