When I think of Moroccan food I think of fragrant spices, bright colours and sweet, savory flavors. And in my world, this translates to a dish that is full of warm spices (like cumin, cayenne and paprika), fresh herbs, some toasted nuts and sweet dried fruit. And in this case, carrots for color and chickpeas, cause I simply love them. So here it is, a Moroccan-style millet salad with chickpeas and carrots.
A Morroccan-Style Millet Salad inspired by memories of Paris
My earliest memories of Moroccan food were during all my trips to Paris to visit my very best friend who was lucky enough to live the Paris life of glamour with her professional athlete husband. Okay, one child arrived after another, and yet another, so it wasn’t glamour all the time, even if she managed to look the part with her high-heels and kids in tow. Though, one thing remained the same, every visit meant dining at some new Moroccan restaurant she discovered during my absence. That meant lots of delicious tajines, a plate of couscous and an assortment of exotic side dishes. So naturally, Moroccan food also makes me think of couscous, and when I think of couscous, I think of millet. Only because millet is my go-to choice when I want a healthy “grain” that mimics couscous.
Millet – a great gluten-free substitute for couscous
Actually a seed, this ancient “pseudo-grain” has a delicious nutty flavor and a texture that resembles a cross between quinoa and couscous, which is why I like it so much. Plus it’s gluten-free and full of nutrients like magnesium, B vitamins, and fiber. Let’s not forget, it’s also a highly alkaline food – meaning it prevents deterioration of our cells!
Millet is easy to prepare and versatile
Millet cooks up in a mere 15 minutes, plus another 10 minutes if standing time. Yes, it’s that fast, which makes it a great (and healthier) alternative to couscous since it can also be used in the exact same way. When I say versatile, I mean highly versatile. Millet can be eaten warm or cold, cooked al dente or longer with more liquid to resemble polenta, for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Yes, this gluten-free pseudo-grain not only tastes great, but it has limitless possibilities.
Morroccan-Style Millet Salad with Chickpeas and Carrots
For the salad:
- 3/4 cup millet, alternatively use quinoa, couscous or bulgur (150 g)
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks (julienned)
- 4 green onions, white and green parts thinly sliced
- 1 x 400 g can organic chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1/3 cup organic cranberries coarsely chopped (45 g)
- 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup lightly toasted pine nuts (30-40 g)
For the dressing:
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon honey (I like to use acacia honey)
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Cook the millet according to package instructions. I cook mine in double the amount of water, at a gentle simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, then I turn off the heat and let it stand for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Once cooked set aside to completely cool before mixing with the rest of the salad ingredients.
NOTE: to enhance millet’s nutty flavor it can be dry roasted over medium-low heat in a skillet for a 4-5 minutes (until aromatic) before proceeding with cooking it.
While the millet cools, toast the pine nuts and prepare the rest of the salad.
In a small bowl, add the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, garlic, spices and salt. Whisk together until well combined.
Add the cooled millet to a large serving bowl, along with the carrots, green onions, chickpeas, cranberries and parsley.
Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss until well combined. Add the pine nuts and toss again. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator and enjoy later!
This Morroccan-style millet salad makes excellent leftovers. It also tastes great served with diced avocado.
- This recipe is easily made vegan — just use maple syrup instead of honey.
Chopped dates, apricots or even raisins can be used instead of cranberries if preferred.
- Pine nuts can also be replaced with lightly toasted slivered almonds.
I almost always use a coarse sea salt for my recipes. I highly recommend 100% natural Marisol Flor de Sal from Portugal.
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