Posts Tagged 'North African Salad'


I’ve been traveling this week. I don’t particularly like traveling. Sure, I enjoy a good dose of city culture. And it’s always great to see our families and old friends. But really, I’d almost always rather be at home, taking advantage of a quiet sunbeam with my little cat, Smudge. There is one thing thing though that gets me fired up to travel. You guessed it – food. And not just dining out. I’m talking grocery stores, co-ops, markets, road side stands. I always travel with a cooler. Because you just never know what you might find or how many left overs you’ll need to tote home.

This particular trip was only to the Twin Cities for more eye related business, but it did involve a fair amount of restaurant dining. My husband Mark and I don’t eat out very often when we’re on home turf. But when we do, we know we need to arrive at any given establishment at least by 8 pm, if not earlier. So I take secret pleasure in waltzing into a restaurant at 9:45 on a Friday night and being in the heart of a hip dinner crowd. Which was the case at Cafe Maude, where I thoroughly enjoyed a late night duck confit flatbread with blue cheese, chicory and balsamic. Oh my.
Despite my late night escapades, I must admit my favorite meal to have out is breakfast. So I was thrilled to catch up with my sister and brother-in-law and niece over a breakfast burrito at  Bryant Lake Bowl. But what’s even better than than the BLB’s luscious bean and egg burrito is the jalapeño studded fried potato slices that come along side it. And the 17 cups of really good coffee I consumed. At least it felt like 17 cups. We had lots of catching up to do. I relished every sip.
Somehow we managed to find room later in the afternoon for a couple of small plates of pork carnitas and refreshing salt rimmed margaritas at Bario’s Tequila Bar. And all before an evening of devouring Thai take-out from the Linden Hill based Naviya with my brother and his family. I love Thai take-out with my brother. He doesn’t mess around. An order of green curry, and another of red. A side of turkey egg rolls. Crazily good sesame infused lettuce wraps. Pad thai. It all gets spilled out onto the table for everyone to dip into. No one ever walks away hungry.
For better or worse, a series of appointments at the U of M put a temporary quell on our dinning spree. By the end, we only had eyes (npi) for home. We fled the city, but not without first fortifying ourselves with an above average basket of fish and chips and a pint of Furious on Repulic’s sun drenched patio – a new West Bank destination. It was so perfectly lovely that we almost stayed. Almost.
Back at home base we realized we had completely blown the April food budget (and then some). And only four days into it to boot. But that’s okay, we’ve had our fill. And honestly, after a few days of eating out, the thought of it doesn’t even appeal to me. Which is why I was especially thrilled to find a note from my friend Ella waiting in the mailbox with a recipe for one of her favorite salads enclosed. I skimmed the recipe and knew instantly that it would be a hit. Partially because I had everything I needed waiting in the fridge and also because it looked bold and fresh and raw. It was the perfect antidote to our gluttony.
There was no question that I was going to love the combination of flavors in this African salad, but until I tasted it, I didn’t realize exactly why. One bite though and it was perfectly clear. It has just the right amount of heat, a gentle bitterness that only arugula can provide, rich saltiness from the feta, and a tinge of sweet from the occasional rogue raisin. I’m pretty sure I could eat this over and over and taste something slightly new with each bite. There’s a lot going on is what I’m getting at.
I made a half recipe for the two of us and we pretty much polished off the entire platter. I even had a warm loaf of good crusty olive bread that I had picked up in the cities, but it sat mostly untouched. Warm loaves of good crusty bread hardly ever sit untouched in our house. Are you catching my drift here? This salad is amazing, in and of itself. I tried to think what I might serve it with at a dinner party. But all I could come up with is a glass of cold, crisp Sauvignon Blanc. It doesn’t need anything else. It doesn’t want anything else.
I think you could easily get by with halving the dressing – unless you like a heavily dressed salad. I made the full amount and had plenty left over. Which I guess is okay, since it means I will be soon be tossing up another bowl of veggies to pour it over.

North African Cauliflower Salad

Charmoula Dressing

3 cloves minced garlic
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds, ground or crushed
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4  teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (use less if not kosher)
2 lemons, juiced
3/4 cup olive oil

Combine everything but lemon juice and olie oil in a medium bow. Whisk in lemon juice and oil. Let stand 30 minute or so while you prepare the salad


1 small head cauliflower
2 large carrots, grated or julienne
1/2 cup raisins
kosher salt to taste
1 large bunch of arugula
1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled

Separate the cauliflower into floret and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices. Either use raw, or steam for just 1-2 minutes until crisp-tender. Place in large bowl. Toss in the shredded carrots and raisins. Pour about half of the dressing over the vegetables, using a rubber spatula and mixing well. Add more dressing and salt to taste. Add in the arugula and toss lightly. Top with feta and serve. (Makes 6-8 servings)


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