Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Almost Moroccan Salad Plate

We had Moroccan guests over for dinner the other day and upon seeing my salad presentation one of them teased that I could be Moroccan. I like to arrange my salad in the same beautiful way I learned from my mother-in-law. Despite how well I may have managed to mimmick her style, deep inside I couldn’t help but think my guest hadn’t looked too closely at my salad or he would have withdrawn the comment. I do not cut my tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots or beets with as much symmetry as they do in Morocco. Whether in the comfort of one's home or fresh from a street vendor, in Morocco you can expect great presentation. In fact, food presentation in Morocco is just as important as the taste. My husband will not even taste something I make if it doesn’t agree first with his eyes.

To arrange a salad the way they do in Morocco you need a large, shallow round serving plate and about 4 or 5 different salads, depending on the size of the plate. Moroccans usually place a rice salad made with tuna and mayonnaise in the middle. It is a good choice because it is molded and holds together nicely as the centerpiece of the plate. Beet, carrot, tomato, cucumber and green bean salads are common choices to place around the outside of the plate. Make sure you choose according to color, selecting a good variety. Start by filling and packing a small, molding bowl with the rice salad. Once packed, turn it over and place top-side down on the center of your large serving dish, removing the molding bowl carefully so that your rice salad remains perfectly in tact. Then, arrange the other salads around the outer edge of the plate. You will want to have two portions of the same salad plated opposite each other.

I made rice, beet, carrot and tomato, and cucumber salads. Carrot and orange salad is popular in Morocco but recently I came across a recipe for Beet and Orange salad by Ina Garten and felt inspired to this. I really liked the result. To really make your dish truly Moroccan style make sure you core your carrots and cucumbers and peel and seed your tomatoes.

Beets with Orange Salad
Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten

About 4 fresh beets
2 Tbsp raspberry balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp pure sea salt (more or less to taste)
¼ tsp of black pepper (more or less to taste)
½ Tbsp zest of orange (from 1orange about)
Segments of 1 large navel orange

Cook beets in pressure cooker or large pot with water and no salt, for about 30 minutes in the pressure cooker and about one hour in the pot until the beets are just tender. Drain and allow to cool just enough so that you can handle it. Peel and dice the beets into small cubes. While still warm add all other ingredients. Mix well and serve cold or at room temperature.

Can be made a day or two ahead.

Carrot with Moroccan Spices Salad

About 6 large carrots
3 garlic cloves
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
About ¼ cup parsley
About 1 full tsp of paprika
About ½ tsp of cumin
Pure sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Peel and core carrots and cut into small cubes. To core carrots, cut carrot in half and then cut each piece in half lengthwise. Using a small sharp knife, cut along both edges of the lighter colored core and snap out the core using the knife under to pull it out if needed. Proceed to cube into smaller cubes.

Put carrots and whole garlic cloves in a pot, fill with water and cook just until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well and remove garlic.

Heat olive oil in frying pan, add carrots and parsley and mix well. Add all remaining spices and mix. Taste and adjust spices to taste. Serve at room temperature.

When making ahead I cook the carrots the day before and keep in the fridge. Then about an hour before serving I saute with parsley and spices and leave outside to be served at room temperature.


  1. Maravilhoso este prato!!! Amei!! ;-) Acho que a sua sogra teria rgulho de vocĂȘ viu? Bjs,

  2. Very Moroccan indeed! I always thought the mayonnaise rice they make would be very yucky, but I was really wrong! It's delicious and as you said, it holds well with whatever you put in it.
    I miss my days in the hot Moroccan summer!
    Thanks for posting this yummy yummy salad!

  3. Obrigada Lu, voce sempre mto gentil!

  4. I also like the carrot potato and mayo salad that they make Marina, what about you?


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