Need to switch up your salad routine? Then make my Moroccan carrot chickpea salad! It is healthy, easy, & full of bold exotic flavors.
That’s what I was doing last night at about 3:30. My baby boy has a cold and woke up throughout the night; after the 3 a.m. “Mama!!!” S.O.S., I could not return to sleep (especially knowing that it was up and at ‘em in two hours).
So I snuggled on the sofa, opened my bedtime brain-candy book (at present, a mystery—Uniform Justice, by Donna Leon–all of her mysteries are set in Venice with plenty of mention of food), and munched on some carrots.
Perhaps because they are considered a “staple” vegetable, carrots receive minimal interest and even less enthusiasm. Cellophane bags-full of baby carrots have given carrot munching a boost, but my non-scientific assessment is that there remains a ho-hum carrot consensus amongst American consumers.
Now, in the relative light of day (another cold, wet, grey one here), I can think more clearly, and it seems like high time to discuss the perfection of carrots.
The Many Health Benefits of Carrots
Crunchy, sweet, cheap, always available (even in some gnarly gas station convenience stores), and endlessly versatile (once I wrap my brain around them)—so praiseworthy, and that’s before considering their health stats.
And talk about stats.
The folklore and Bugs Bunny cartoons are correct: carrots improve vision. That’s because they’re loaded with vitamin A—specifically, four times the recommended daily intake (in the form of beta-carotene) per cooked half cup.
That same beta-carotene is also a powerful antioxidant, effective in fighting against some forms of cancer, stroke, and heart disease. Carrots are also a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and manganese, and a good source of vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, iron, potassium and copper.
All of my less-than-cerebral observations, combined with my inquiries into the nutritional facts, compelled me to start peeling away this morning while Nickster napped. At first I had my sight on carrot soup, but then I decided it was crunch I craved, so I set to making an easy Moroccan-spiced carrot salad for dinner.
How to Make Moroccan Carrot Chickpea Salad
Carrot salads are nothing new, but the ones I see most often involve drowning in a raisin-studded sea of mayonnaise or paralysis in a molded ring of lime Jell-O.
Not so with this recipe. The carrots are stripped of all creamy dressings and gels, allowing their refreshing flavor to shine through.
The only step that takes time is grating the carrots, but only if you use a box grater. With a food processor (grater attachment inserted) the grating takes about 2 minutes!
Add Lots of Herbs, Spices and Hint of Sweetness
Once the carrots are added, simply add everything else! Specifically, all of the bold elements that give this simple salad Moroccan flair:
Finely chopped dates (chopped raisin will work, too)
Fresh lemon (the juice and the zest)
Does the Salad Have Oil?
I add some olive oil to the salad, but not much. Mostly, because it does not need much. I find that a tablespoon is plenty to coat the salad and carry the flavors throughout each and every bite.
If you would like to leave out the oil, go right ahead!
Let the Carrot Salad Chill for at Least 2 Hours
As much as you might like to dive right into a serving of this bright and beautiful salad, I strongly suggest letting it rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours for the carrots to soften and the flavors to blend.
I don’t know if it was taking my time to prepare this salad (prepare dinner, check!), or nibbling fresh carrots beforehand, but my pinched & wan complexion of this morning now seems much brighter. Hooray carrots!