I’ve always been into carrot salads. I think the fact that they’re typically studded with raisins is what draws me in — I’m such a sucker for dried fruit! That said, you’ll usually find me eating raisins by the handful rather than spending the time to make carrot salads.
This changed after a picnic lunch from Heyday during the Stitch Fix Luna Vacay. There were sandwiches and a bunch of different salads to share. Everything was really tasty but there was a carrot, chickpea and quinoa salad with Moroccan spices that I LOVED. It wasn’t anything too crazy or different but the flavor was on point and I immediately knew I wanted to recreate the salad at home.
It only took me a few weeks but before I knew it, I had a big bowl of the best carrot salad I had ever made in my fridge.
I think the dressing is what makes this salad. It’s different than any other dressing I’ve posted here one EBF before. It incorporates toasted almonds, fresh cilantro. smoky paprika, cumin and a little heat from the cayenne pepper. The best part is that you don’t have to worry about picking the leaves from the stems, which is always the annoying part of working with fresh herbs (in my opinion).
The sweetness from the carrots and raisins pairs perfectly with the fresh cilantro dressing while the chickpeas and quinoa add a little bulk, protein and extra fiber.
I ate it as a mid-afternoon snack or as a side with lunch or dinner but it would also be a great dish to bring to a potluck or summer cookout.
I’d tell you how long the salad lasted but I’m too embarrassed. Let’s just say it didn’t last long. Like I said, it’s the best. 🙂
The Best Healthy Carrot Salad
- 2 1/2 cups chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 1/2 cups peeled and coarsely shredded carrots
- 1 1/4 cup cooked and cooled quinoa
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted (divided)
- 1 packed cup cilantro leaves and stems
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Spray a large skillet with olive oil, add the almonds and toast over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Let cool.
- Make the dressing: In a food processor, combine the lemon juice with the minced garlic and let stand for 15 minutes. Transfer half of the toasted almonds to the food processor. Add the cilantro, cumin, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper and pulse until chopped. Add the olive oil and process to a chunky paste. Season with salt and pepper; transfer to a large bowl. Add the chickpeas, carrots and raisins to the bowl and toss. Garnish with the remaining almonds and serve.
- If you want to make the carrot salad ahead of time, it can be refrigerated overnight. Garnish with the toasted almonds just before serving.