Moroccan-Style Shredded Carrot Salad with Lemon, Garlic and Labneh Dressing
Serves: 4-6 as a side salad
By Heidi Allison
This salad is an homage to Middle Eastern meza — healthy, fresh and fast-to-prepare sides that often outshine the mains. The flavor profile of this dish has a decidedly Moroccan slant, with heady hits of garlic and lemon in the foreground, and spicy, sweet cumin and cilantro that follow close behind, with a hint of sweetness from the carrots and richness from the creamy, rich Middle Eastern yogurt… A bold dish that pairs well with grilled fish, roasted poultry and vegetarian fare.
Don’t let the amount of garlic or lemon scare you—these bold tastes are tempered with creamy, rich labneh (aka labna or labne), a Middle Eastern strained yogurt. Although similar to Greek yogurt, Labneh is different… Greek yogurt has more whey, protein and a bit more “tangy” flavor compared to Labneh, which has more fat, a creamier mouth feel and thicker texture… It’s somewhere between Crème Fraiche and Greek Yogurt. (If you can’t find labneh, strain plain, full-fat Greek yogurt in cheesecloth or 3 days to get a similar product.)
The challenge of this dish is maintaining a lemon flavor without overpowering the sweetness of the carrots. Using primarily Meyer lemon juice, which is less acidic, tempers the acidity. Marinating the shredded carrots in the fresh lemon juice before incorporating the cumin dressing and labneh helps maintain the “fresh lemon” flavor, which often dissipates after the finished dish sits a bit.
Shredded Carrot Salad with Lemon, Garlic and Labneh
3 large organic carrots
Combined juice of 3 Meyer lemons
or Juice of 1 Eureka lemon, about 4 ounces
1½ Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves
1 tsp. sugar
1/3 cup Labneh
½ tsp. Himalayan salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. minced cilantro
1 Tbs. blanched almond slivers, lightly toasted
½ Tbs. black sesame seeds (garnish)
Shred carrots in a food processor using the large-hole disk. Transfer shredded carrots to a large bowl, you should have 5 cups.
Pour about 1/4 cup of lemon juice, reserving 2 tablespoons, over the carrots, and allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes.
Add remaining lemon juice, olive oil, salt , cumin and sugar to a 2-cup glass measuring cup and whisk until combined. Using a microplane, grate garlic into lemon juice mixture, and stir to combine, then pour mixture over carrots. Allow carrots to macerate for about 10 minutes, then stir in labneh, cover and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes more.
Place carrot salad on a serving plate, with accumulated “dressing” and garnish with almonds, black sesame seeds and cilantro. Serve.