In my search for a salad to serve recently when friends came over for dinner, I hit on Heidi Swanson’s Moroccan Carrot and Chickpea Salad. With a bag of carrots burning a hole in my fridge, I decided to go for it. Heidi’s recipe calls for dried pluots, plums or dates, but I substituted with currants, because, well, I could not find dried pluots or plums and I’ve been spending too much money on dates recently. Also, I was curious about currants, having noticed them for some time in the bulk food section of my neighborhood grocery store.
For some reason, “currant” conjures a scene in my mind of Henry VIII era England (the same scene conjured by “pheasant”), which I picture as it was described by Hillary Mantel in Wolf Hall. This bizarre association, coupled with my general curiosity about new foods, resulted in my purchasing a cup or so of currants–Zante currants, to be specific. The currants turned out to be a successful substitution, and now I have a hard time even imagining the salad with dates, which is a good thing, because currants cost half what dates do, and bulk dates are threatening my solvency.
I made this salad again yesterday, with the leftover dressing, and now I’m even more certain that this will become staple in my winter rotation.
Update: I consumed pounds of this salad as I awoke from my winter hibernation. It was perfect.
3-4 large carrots, peeled
1/3 cup fresh mint, washed and torn into small pieces
1 can (or 2 cups) garbanzo beans (rinsed, if from a can)
2/3 cup Zante currants
1/3 cup slivered almonds
For the dressing:
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp honey (I’m going to use a scant Tbsp next time because I thought the dressing was a little on the sweet side)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Toast the cumin seeds in a dry skillet until fragrant and lightly browned. Let cool, and then grind with mortar and pestle.
Mix the rest of the dressing ingredients in a jar, stir in the ground cumin seeds, and shake really well.
Grate the carrots. Toss with the currants, mint and chickpeas. Set aside.
Toast the slivered almonds in the skillet you used to toast the cumin. Add to the salad, and toss with half of the dressing. Taste, and add more dressing if necessary. Serve immediately.