A touch of orange: Moroccan Carrot Salad

by Sarah on October 28, 2012

 Moroccan carrot salad

Jews of Moroccan descent are one of the largest ethnic groups in Israel, totaling almost half a million. It is not surprising that their culinary influence has made a lasting imprint on Israeli cuisine. Couscous has become ubiquitous throughout the country and preserved lemons and harissa are common supermarket items. In Moroccan neighborhoods, cardoons, artichokes and fresh olives can be found in season at outdoor markets.

Moroccan restaurants, both home-style and higher end have opened in many areas.  One of the most popular items on the menu is carrot salad- sliced, boiled carrot rounds in a piquant marinade. In addition to Levantine style mezzes which are served raw, cooked salads are popular in Morocco- artichokes simmered with lemons, soft chickpeas with garlic glazed Swiss chard, fiery roasted peppers, green beans in tangy vinaigrette….simple ingredients with intense flavor.

Swiss chard with chickpeas

Here is my version of Moroccan carrot salad. The lemon zest adds a refreshing lilt to the dish while the preserved lemon keeps it interesting. Some Israeli cooks use only olive oil, cumin and lemon juice as flavorings. Others add a generous amount of spicy harissa. Paula Wolfert prepares a sweet version, omitting the preserved lemons and adding sugar and cinnamon.

Moroccan Carrot Salad

Moroccan Carrot Salad


7 medium sized carrots, peeled and chopped into 2-3 pieces

1 tablespoon of preserved lemon, chopped into small pieces, seeds discarded

Zest of one lemon

Juice of ½ lemon

½ teaspoon harissa (I omitted this since the preserved lemons contained harissa)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon salt or to taste

4 tablespoons of olive oil, a good glug

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Small bunch of coriander (cilantro), chopped

Place the carrots in a medium sized pot. Pour in enough water to barely cover the carrots. Boil until the carrots can be easily pierced with a fork. Drain (I used the reserved liquid to make cauliflower soup). When the carrots are cool enough to handle, cut them into 1 cm rounds (0.4 inches) and place in a bowl.

Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a pan and add the garlic. When the olive oil starts bubbling around the garlic, stir for a few more minutes and remove from heat. Make sure they do not brown. Pour the garlic mixture over the carrots and add the preserved lemon, lemon zest, lemon juice, cumin, salt, pepper and chopped coriander. Mix until well coated. If serving the following day, omit the coriander and add it at the last minute since it tends to discolor quickly. Best served at room temperature.


The orange challenge and food photography tips

lighting in food photography

{Above: Time of day can have a profound affect on lighting. The picture on the left was taken very early in the morning, while the second picture was taken at midday. The biggest difference seen here is changes in hue as the day progresses.}

I’m submitting this photograph to Jungle Frog’s orange challenge. Since I‘ve started this blog almost four years ago I have been learning new techniques in food photography and styling, practicing whenever I get the chance.  I have compiled a food photography pinterest board, both of photographs and websites that inspire me. Books are also an incredibly useful resource. Recently I purchased Light Science and Magic , which was recommend to me by Ilva Beretta, author and creative mind behind the stunning Lucullian Delights blog.  This book is applicable to all variety of photography, from still life to portraits and not limited to food.  For those interested in food photography only, I recommend from Plate to Pixel by Helen Dujardin for styling ideas and photography basics.

food photography, lighting

{Above: This picture illustrates the affect of diffuse and direct light. Both pictures were taken at about the same time of day. The picture on the left was illuminated by the diffused light of a large curtained window. The second picture was placed directly in a stream of sunlight. Note the harsh, dramatic shadows in the second photo.}

Now my major obstacle for food photography is time. I work most mornings and when I get home the sun has already started its downward arch, illuminating the house in abrupt shadows. If I do manage to fit in a photography session, sometimes my food styling is completely off and needs to be redone. Initially I chose an orange plate to serve the carrots with a tangerine colored towel in the background. It looked like how I dressed as a preteen, with matching socks, t-shirts and barrettes all in clashing hues of purple. Obviously I have never left that stage. Within my limitations, I try not only to create a well-lighted scene but one that is uniquely mine. That is the hardest to pull off.

Moroccan carrot salad

{Above: The affect of styling on food photography. The carrots are lost on the orange plate and blends right into it. In contrast, they stand out beautifully against the white plate, which  emphasizes their color.  I dislike the tangerine towel in both the photographs but that’s a matter of taste.}

Disclosure: If books are purchased off my site I do get a (minuscule) commission from Amazon which helps support this blog (it goes to buy sea salt)

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa October 28, 2012 at 7:25 am

A delicious salad. Simple, but really refined dish with lots of gusto.




Yael the Finn October 28, 2012 at 9:08 am

I used to make that often when still living in FInland…so tasty and simple to make:)


Yael October 28, 2012 at 10:41 am

Loved the photos tips. This salad always reminds me of my military service. They used to make so spicy!


ben October 28, 2012 at 11:10 am

great post! i love anything carrots, and the salad looks great.


Sarah October 29, 2012 at 4:01 am

Ben, Thanks, you are 100% Moroccan as far as your food preferences ;-)


Eha October 28, 2012 at 6:52 pm

One of my favourite cooked salads: have this recipe already in my kitchen as think my other ones do not use preserved lemon: just have to try! Thanks :) ! And it looks very appetizing!!


Simone October 28, 2012 at 10:30 pm

That is a beautiful looking salad! And I love your explanation of the photo session you did and your styling challenges! I have some of the same mistakes from time to time and then when I look back at the photos I always wonder what on earth I was thinking. Lol. Thanks so much for joining in the challenge!


Shari October 29, 2012 at 12:31 am

The tangerine towel looks like raw salmon; new challenge! come up with a dish fusing Morrocan carrots and raw salmon. (oh, the horror!)


Sarah October 29, 2012 at 4:03 am

Shari, I was trying to be creative. That’s what happens when you have 5 minutes to food style, it doesn’t always make sense at the end ;-)


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