This Moroccan inspired salad is magnificent. Finely grated carrot and fresh mint sit against a backdrop of cinnamon-softened onion and tumeric stained cauliflour cous cous. Orange zest adds spark, dried fruit a little sweetness, and the minced garlic in the dressing is both subtle and sharp. I’ve served this salad to those who don’t like cauliflower, and those who don’t like fresh garlic, and everybody comes back for more. It’s an enticing, exotic mix.
I’ve never been to Morocco, but I like to think that the swallows who arrive here in Spring have their winter abode in an old Moroccan street where sunlight and shadow play between houses and heady aromas of warm spice waft out of open doors. I wonder if there’s a woman there who exclaims to her husband, ‘The swallows are back!’ around the same time that I’m realising I haven’t seen them for a few days. Here in Italy, we’re close to Morocco as the bird flies, and herbs and spices have ebbed and flowed across the Mediteranean for as long as there have been trade routes and political relations.
Before Paleo, I would make a version of this using cous cous and chickpeas. It’s just as good with riced cauliflour and sans legumes. It’s a playful salad that is endlessly adaptable for whatever your needs. Don’t like garlic, or on low FODMAPs? Leave it out. Want healthy fats? Toss in some pumpkin or sunflower seeds. Doing the AIP elimination phase? Omit the pinenuts or nuts, and remember that the dried fruit will count towards your daily fructose intake. Maybe add a little diced celery for crunch. You could add minced parsley along with the mint, or fresh ginger as you’re frying the onion.
Any way you go, this salad is perfect for those Bring-Something-For-The-Table occasions, and is bound to win you admirers. It’s a great one for winning people over to Paleo.
Some Tasty Extra’s
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- 1 large or two small oranges
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 cups cauliflour, riced
- 1 teaspoon tumeric
- 5 dates, pitted and chopped
- 2 tablespoons sultanas
- 3 medium carrots, finely grated (2 cups)
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves, minced to make ¼ cup
- 2 tablespoons lightly toasted pinenuts, almonds or pistacchios (omit for AIP)
- Zest the oranges, and then juice them. You want 1 heaped tablespoon of zest and 4 tablespoons of juice.
- For the dressing, add the orange juice, extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, garlic and salt to a jar. Screw the lid on tightly, and shake to combine. Give it a shake every time you pass by.
- For the cauliflour cous cous, add the olive oil, onion and cinnamon to a large non-stick frypan and sautè until the onion is soft.
- Add the tumeric and cauliflour, and continue stirring until the onion and cauliflour have turned yellow. Keep stirring until the cauliflour has softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the dates, sultanas and orange zest. Stir until mixed through. Turn off the heat and allow.
- While still warm, add the grated carrot.
- When cool, add the mint and pinenuts or nuts if using, and toss with two spoons to combine.
- Just before serving, spoon over 2 tablespoons of the dressing and mix well. Use the rest of the dressing for another batch, or for a different salad, or for pouring over thinly sliced fresh fennel.