Eating healthy is always a struggle, but having a couple great, wheat-free vegetarian recipes in your arsenal of go-to, fast, delicious meals is essential for every wanna-be (or actual) chef. One of my favorite standbys is from Deb over at Smitten Kitchen. Her excellent Carrot Salad with Feta, Harissa and Mint is quick and can be pulled together in less than 30 minutes.
Harissa is a North African spice mix that's a bit like a distant relative of chili powder, but a bit more exotic. It's got a complex, smoky, garlicky, deep flavor that makes it a great addition to your vegetarian recipes- especially those with roasted (or roasting) vegetables. As Harissa does, notably, have quite a bit more heat than what we consider "traditional" chili powder, use your best judgment when seasoning your recipes.The spice itself can sometimes be hard to find, but you can find substitutes fairly easily--I actually ended up using a "Harissa Rub" from Whole Foods as I couldn't find the spice all by its lonesome, but this seemed to work just fine.
Carrot Salad with Feta, Harissa, and Mint
3/4 pound carrots, peeled, trimmed and coarsely grated
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 crushed clove of garlic
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked (or sweet) paprika
3/4 teaspoon harissa (add more or less depending on your taste for spicy things)
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
1/3 cup feta, crumbled
What to do:
Crush the garlic, then put it in a small sauté pan with the cumin, paprika, Harissa, honey, and oil, then cook until very fragrant, about one to two minutes. Remove from heat, then add the lemon juice and salt to taste (I used about 1/8 tsp). Pour this dressing over the carrots and toss to mix. Add the cilantro and mint, then toss again. Let the salad rest for a bit (this gives the flavors a chance to meld), then add the feta right before eating your delicious, vegetarian meal. If you're not trying to go wheat-free or gluten-free, serve this salad up with a nice piece of crusty bread.