Not to brag, but I’ve been eating harissa since before it was trendy. Back when I would pick up tubes and cans of this spicy north African pepper paste from the Middle Eastern grocery stores lining Kedzie Ave. in Chicago. Ok, so maybe that is bragging. I don’t care – I really love harissa. Is it the new sriracha? I don’t know, but there’s something about the sweet heat and garlic that makes it incredibly versatile. And while harissa is delicious as a condiment, it is also one of my favorite additions to homemade salad dressing. This Carrot Salad with Honey Harissa Dressing is surprisingly family-friendly, easy to assemble and really highlights the unique flavors of harissa.
Z has always been a good eater, and loves veggies and beans. That means that chopped salads are a regular part of our summer dinner rotation, especially on nights when it is too hot to cook. This salad was created as a way to introduce her to new flavors, but in a familiar way. Plus, she loves helping to chop veggies with a crinkle cutter, as I mentioned previously in my Italian Chopped Salad post. Whisking together the dressing is a breeze, making this a super easy recipe to make with kids.
I like to steam the carrots slightly for this recipe, but you can skip this step if you like a lot of crunch. I am exceptionally lazy, so I do this in the microwave. As for the olives: oil-cured olives fit the Moroccan theme of this dressing, but they are really hard to find. If your grocery store has an olive bar, check it out. Otherwise, kalamatas get you the necessary hit of salt.
A note on seasoning the dressing: Each brand of harissa is different, so start with just a bit in your dressing, adding a bit more as you go. Z can’t handle a lot of heat, so I have recently started using Mina’s mild harissa (Chicagoans – this is available at Mariano’s.) I use heaps of it, just because it tastes so good and doesn’t overwhelm the dish.
|Moroccan Chopped Salad with Honey Harissa Dressing|| |
- 1 teaspoon harissa - more to taste
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- salt to taste
- 1 pound carrots - peeled and sliced
- 1 cup canned chickpeas - drained and rinsed
- ½ cup cilantro leaves - chopped
- ½ cup mint leaves - chopped
- 1 cup diced zucchini
- 1 cup diced red pepper
- ⅓ cup finely chopped red onion
- a handful of oil-cured or Kalamata olives
- Place sliced carrots into a microwave-safe bowl, add 2 tablespoons of water and top with a microwave-safe lid.
- Microwave 3 minutes and check for tenderness. This may be enough time depending on the carrots, but cook for an additional 30 seconds at a time until you are happy with the texture.
- Strain the carrots and allow them to cool.
- Whisk all dressing ingredients together in a large bowl. Add more harissa and salt to taste.
- Mix in the carrots along with all other salad ingredients.
- Stir well and serve chilled or at room temperature.