Eating in the couscous restaurants of Paris, there are very often carrot salads on the menu – simply done, crunchy barely cooked carrots with a simple cumin and parsley dressing.  Heading over to a friends for lunch one day I wanted to make a hearty salad that wasn’t composed entirely of green leaves and tomatoes so I decided to use roasted beets, red peppers and ‘just cooked’ crunchy carrots as the base and see what seeds and spices could be used to make an equally solid dressing that could stand up to the root veggies.

My husband had recently brought home various spices and mysterious looking bags of foodie treats from his Tunisian bachelor party. Tunisian flavours come most often from the use of the following spices as well as the all important harissa;  garlic, anise, saffron, cinnamon, caraway, coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, ginger, white pepper, black pepper, red pepper and cloves.  Tabil or galat dugga are two typical Tunisian spice mixes commonly used.The toasted spice mix for this salad uses North African inspired tastes but it’s easy to mix and match pantry staples to come up with your own flavours to mix into the dressing.

In a large bowl, mix the roasted, chopped beetroot, the sliced carrots, the chopped pepper, the sultanas and the cucumber.  Fold the toasted seed mix into the oils and the other dressing ingredients and mix well. Toss the salad in the spicy oil mix for a couple for hours before serving so the flavours can envelop the vegetables.

Ingredients

  • 2 beetroot  – boiled (or used pre-cooked) and roasted for about 20 minutes
  • 4 carrots -steamed just so they lose their raw edge but are still crunchy
  • 1 red pepper – chopped
  • 1 red onion – diced
  • 1 tablespoon golden sultanas
  • half a large cucumber sliced and diced

For the spice mix and dressing: toast the seeds you’re using in a dry pan until fragrant and just starting to ‘jump’. Then crush roughly in a pestle and mortar.

  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon zaatar
  • half a teaspoon salt (if not using zaatar)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • half teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • half teaspoon cinnamon
  • half clove of fresh garlic – crushed
  • a couple of pinches of white pepper