This exotic Moroccan Salad is full of colourful vegies, a spiced olive oil dressing and plenty of antioxidants. Packed with ingredients typical of the Mediterranean Diet, this eating style is associated with longer life and better health.
Salad Ingredients (Serves 4)2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/4 butternut pumpkin, skin removed, deseeded, cut into 2cm cubes
1 carrot, cut into sticks
1 red capsicum, halved, deseeded, cut into 3cm cubes
1 green zucchini, cut lengthways, cut into 1cm slices
1 red onion, peeled, quartered
1 cup San Remo Couscous
1 cup boiling water
400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup sultanas
2 Tbs parsley, finely chopped
2 Tbs chopped almonds
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1Tbs lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
Robust and packed with nutrients, this Moroccan Salad epitomises the Mediterranean diet. Widely regarded as one of the healthiest diets, people who follow the Mediterranean diet have been shown to be less likely to suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancer. The Mediterranean diet includes a range of fresh, seasonal and colourful fruits and vegetables, legumes, fish and seafood, garlic, herbs and spices, and olive oil, with only small amounts of meat and dairy foods. The health benefits associated with the diet can be attributed to the fruits, vegetables and herbs contributing a range of powerful antioxidants, while the generous use of olive oil and seafood offers plenty of heart-healthy, unsaturated fats.
In this recipe, the tomatoes not only offer fibre and vitamin C, but also an antioxidant known as lycopene (which gives the tomatoes their red colour). Lycopene functions as an antioxidant by preventing damage to our body’s cells, which may otherwise increase the risk of cancer. In addition, cooked tomatoes, such as those found in pasta sauces and tomato paste, offer your body more lycopene as it is more readily absorbed than from raw tomatoes.
The other vegetables in this recipe also offer a range of vital nutrients. Pumpkin and carrots, due to their orange colour, are high in beta-carotene (which is converted to vitamin A in the body), while red capsicums have the highest vitamin C content of all the capsicums. Carotenoids (such as beta-carotene and lycopene) are associated with a lower risk of developing some cancers and heart disease, and improved immunity. Only half a cup of carrots will meet your carotenoid requirements for the whole day. The orange, red and dark, leafy green vegetables, such as the parsley, in this recipe are also rich in carotenoids.
This recipe offers great flexibility for cooking at home. Chickpeas are a source of protein and provide satiety, but can be swapped for other varieties of canned beans, such as soya beans and kidney beans, which are also very rich in antioxidants. Fresh garden produce, or inexpensive, seasonal produce in the supermarket is also ideal. Eggplants and parsnips are also suitable for roasting, while dark, leafy greens like rocket and baby spinach can add freshness, more antioxidants and variation to the dish.
Lastly, this Moroccan Salad is great as a dinner meal, or is suited to be made at the beginning of the week to create leftovers for lunches. It should be kept covered in the refrigerator for 3 days only.
1. Preheat oven to 220̊C. Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
2. Place the vegetables on the tray, drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Bake for 25 minutes or until tender.
3. Bring 1 cup of water to the boil, then remove from heat, add couscous and cover. Allow to stand for 2-3 minutes. Stir quickly with a fork to separate the grains.
4. Add the roasted vegetables, tomatoes and chickpeas to the couscous and stir to combine.
5. Gently stir in sultanas, parsley and chopped almonds.
6. For the dressing, mix all ingredients together and pour over the salad.