Moroccan Welcome Salad

Moroccan Welcome Salad

 

In case you had not noticed, I really like Moroccan food.

One tradition in that country is that dinner guests are greeted with a Welcome Salad, a collection of cool light colorful dishes, prepared well ahead of time. Here is one I assembled for  recent party. In had four separate salads in all (plus a garnish of some grape tomatoes).

Rice and Tuna Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup finely chopped colored bell peppers (or other vegetables)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup tuna
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil (or use the oil from the tuna, if desired)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  •  1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preparation:

Cook the rice according to the directions. (As a general rule, one cup of rice can be gently simmered, covered, in 2 1/4 cups water for about 25 minutes, until the water is absorbed.) Allow the rice to cool thoroughly before mixing the salad.

Place the cooled rice in a large bowl with the tuna and vegetables. In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise with the oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and add it to the rice. Gently stir to mix everything well. Refrigerate the salad for about two hours before serving.

Carrot Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. fresh carrots, peeled and cut into 1/8″ slices
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, partially crushed
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot paprika

Preparation:

Boil the carrots in salted water until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain, and immediately cover the carrots with cold water to stop further cooking. Drain again.

In a medium pot or skillet, gently saute the garlic cloves in the olive oil for two or three minutes over low heat. Discard the garlic, and add the carrots, lemon juice, cilantro, and spices. Saute over low heat for another two minutes, and remove from the heat.

Serve the marinated carrots chilled.

Green Bean Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. (about 1/2 kg) fresh green beans
  • 1 small roasted red pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice
  • salt
  • hot paprika, cayenne pepper, or black pepper

Preparation:

Remove the ends from the green beans and cut them into 1/2 inch pieces. Wash and drain the beans, place them in a pot, and cover with cold salted water.

Bring the beans to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover the pot, and simmer the beans about 10 to 12 minutes, or until they are crisp-tender.

Immediately drain the beans, and cover with cold water to stop further cooking. Allow the beans to sit in the water for a minute, then drain again.

When the beans have cooled completely, gently press the beans to squeeze out excess water. Put the beans in a large bowl with the remaining ingredients, and season to taste. Toss gently to mix, cover tightly, and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Prior to serving, taste the salad and adjust the seasoning if desired.

Cold Beet Salad

If making the same day as serving, allow an hour or more for the salad to chill and marinate.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. red beets
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • slivered red onion

Preparation:

Rinse the beet roots. Place in a pot or pressure cooker, and cover with water. Boil or pressure cook the beets until tender. This can take up to an hour and half when boiling, and up to 40 minutes when pressure cooking. How long depends on how large the beets are.

Drain the beets, and slide the skins off while the beets are still warm. Allow the beets to cool, and then cut the beets into 1/4″ cubes.

Mix the cubed beets in a large bowl with the remaining ingredients, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Cover tightly, and refrigerate at least an hour or overnight.

Prior to serving, taste the salad and adjust the seasoning if desired.

[The above recipes were adapted from this article on About.com, which also offers some alternatives for the salad plate.]

 

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