People often ask me what kind of cook I am. It’s like they’re expecting me to say I am an expert in sushi, or specialize in French macaron-making. The truth is, I don’t claim one particular food or cuisine as mine. I do, however, have certain ingredients and habits I gravitate towards. I strive for everything I make, whether it’s a Bolognese sauce or a taco, to strike a balance between sweet, heat, acid and salt. I also have an infatuation with spices, herbs and other little sprinklings to gild the lily.
Which brings me to this carrot salad. I love shredded salads because I can use my food processor and they allow me to use up the random veggies in my fridge (real talk).I remember a carrot salad I ate during a photo shoot during my college internship. Yes, this was a good 6 years ago now. It had cinnamon in it, raisins and a bit of a kick. I felt so New York City eating that salad. It was also college, so at that point I was subsisting on Barilla Plus with marinara sauce and turkey wraps from Campus Deli. You can imagine why I remember it so vividly.
Now I’m on the other side of the serving table. While I’m still no expert, I do know what I like.
Moroccan Carrot Salad with Ras el Hanout
1 lb. carrots, peeled, trimmed and grated (with a box grater or food processor)
1/4 cup raisins
2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tablespoon honey
1/2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon ras el hanout*
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
Handful roughly chopped parsley
In a large bowl, combine the carrots, raisins and scallions. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, honey, ginger, garlic and ras el hanout. Drizzle in the olive oil and whisk. Add cayenne, salt, pepper and a bit more lemon juice/honey/olive oil to taste. Pour over carrot mixture and toss to combine. Sprinkle with parsley.
*Ras el hanout, literally ‘head of the shop’, is a Moroccan spice blend. There are many varieties, but is most likely to include cardamom, clove, cinnamon, chili pepper, coriander, cumin and nutmeg. Look for it at ethnic markets or in the spice section at Whole Foods (Frontier Organic brand). As a basic-pantry alternative, you can use a combination of ground cumin and a bit of cinnamon.