Zrodia Slata: Carrot And Onion Salad
The 60’s and 70’s are a much maligned culinary era, bringing to mind tuna noodle casseroles with cornflake crusts, fondue made with Velveeta, and ‘salads’ which feature mini-marshmallows and pistachio pudding as central ingredients. However, there were good things to come out of the 70’s as well, like the popularity of Osso Bucco, Welsh Rarebit (cheese on toast never tasted so good!), and one of my favorites: carrot salad.
I have no idea what my mother used to put into that carrot salad of hers, with the exception that it was always made with shredded carrots and raisins and dressed in a nice tart vinaigrette. A suspicious combination at first glance, but oh so delicious. Besides being tasty, it was also quite affordable AND nutritious, which are two very important things when you’re tasked with feeding three hungry kidlets on a limited family income.
This carrot salad is a Moroccan spin on my Mom’s old dish. Zrodia Slata is one of the most common Moroccan salads, and you’ll hear a lot of fierce disagreement about what makes it an authentic dish. Sometimes the carrots are cooked and cut in large chunks, sometimes they’re shredded. The dressing always has cumin and garlic, but then the variations start. Will we use lemon for the tart bite or pomegranate molasses? Would we like a bit of heat or a smoky paprika flavor? And what about something verdant and fresh to cut through the strong tastes, like parsley or cilantro? As you can imagine, I say, “Sure. Okay. Yes. Why not….?”
My version of Zrodia Slata has a sweet but pungent charm while still allowing the carrots to shine. The cayenne adds quite a kick, and I love the contrast between cool, crunchy carrot salad and that hot, smoky-sweet vinaigrette. And also, garlic. I do love me some garlic. I also have an appalling and completely embarrassing phobia of vampires which kept me awake for about two straight months when I read Salem’s Lot at age twelve, and which could quite possibly have either spawned my love of garlic or encouraged it at the very least. Anyway, please don’t ever surprise me when you’re wearing those pointy Hallowe’en dentures, and we’ll get along just fine.
Zrodia Slata: Carrot And Onion Salad
Serves 6-8 as a side dish
- 1 bunch (4 large or 6 medium) carrots
- 1/2 smallish or medium red onion
- 1 large (or 2 small) clove garlic
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander seed
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper *
- 1 tsp smoked paprika **
- 1/2 small handful (2-3 tbsp) fresh parsley
* If you don’t like a lot of heat you may wish to use a bit less. I like the contrast, so I’m a 1/2 tsp girl.
** No smoked paprika? Well, that’s okay I suppose. Use your most flavorful sweet paprika and maybe some smoked salt. No? Am I asking too much?
Peel the carrots and grate them on the larger holes of your box grater.
Use a garlic press or a rasp to crush the garlic into a small bowl.
Add in the olive oil, pomegranate molasses, and all of the spices. Give it a nice stir with a fork to faux-whisk it until everything is combined and even. This is not a thin dressing but it will coat the carrots nicely.
Chop up your onions very finely and throw them on top of the carrots in a medium-large bowl. Chop through the parsley until it’s as fine as you can get it, and add this as well.
Add the dressing to the salad, give it a nice stir so that every last piece of carrot is coated, and that’s it! Well, after you season with salt and pepper…lots of pepper. Carrots like pepper, and so do I.
I love salads. They’re the fastest posts I have and they spare you from listening to interminable stories about my multiple and often sordid phobias, traumatic childhood horrors, disruptive tendencies, and eerie or shameful little habits.
So CHEERS to a rejuvenation of the classic carrot salad! It’s just lovely with chicken and I wouldn’t mind trying it out with some sumac rubbed pork tenderloin….given the choice…..oh, and although I like it best when it’s first made, it keeps well in the fridge for up to three days.
Also: Yes, you can add raisins. I would have done so myself if I didn’t think that Kristie was totally going to judge me for it.