With the festive season just round the corner, now is the time to start thinking of the recipes for your Christmas table, don’t you think? I don’t know about you but I like having some lighter options for Christmas lunch as the abundance of traditional roast dinner can get somewhat heavy for one’s digestive system.
This Moroccan inspired salad is a perfect light yet nutrient dense addition to your Christmas menu. If you make a big batch of it, you can save the leftovers for Boxing Day’s lunch (just leave out the dressing and pour it just before serving).
How do you celebrate Christmas in your country? Growing up in Russia, we never actually celebrated Christmas on the 25th December but on the 7th January, which is all to do with the Russian Orthodox church using the old Julian calendar for religious holidays, where 25 December falls onto 7 January.
The main celebrations would be taking place on New Year’s Eve, 31 December, when all the family and friends get together at the festive table graced with an abundance of traditional Russian food: winter salad or beetroot salad with herring, pickles, sweet and savoury platters, dumplings, you name it! It’s an evening of being merry (not without vodka I must add), eating good food (and lots of it), singing the old favourite songs (you don’t have to know anything about unison or harmony by the way and it doesn’t matter if you can’t sing, you’ll still fit in) and perhaps a good dance afterwards to shake off that extra couple of kilos you’ve put on whilst tucking into the festive food. That’s what it was like in the days when I was growing up anyway.
Our Christmas celebrations in England (where I moved 12 years ago) are a lot ‘less crazy’ than my Russian childhood memories yet they denote a common ‘theme’ – it’s all about quality time with family and friends, enjoying and appreciating each other’s company, being fortunate enough to eat good food and drink, being merry and grateful for all your blessings.
I would love to know how you celebrate Christmas in your country and which traditional food you will be making for the festive table this year.
Without further ado, the recipe for this gluten free & vegan festive salad is below.
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EASY MOROCCAN INSPIRED FESTIVE SALAD (GLUTEN FREE, VEGAN)
For the salad:
- 400 g Brussel sprouts , cut in halves
- 150 g baby carrots
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp ras el hanout spice mix* (refer to the post)
- ½ cup mixed quinoa , rinsed and drained
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 3 big handfuls of mixed salad leaves
- 3 tbsp pomegranate seeds
- 3 tbsp pecan nuts , roughly chopped
- A bunch of fresh coriander , chopped
- Optional: roasted spicy chickpeas for garnish
For the dressing:
- 3 tsbp extra virgin olive oil
- 5 tbsp fresh orange juice
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ½ tsp ras el hanout spice
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1/2 tsp - 1 tsp maple syrup (adjust the quantity to your taste buds)
- 1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
- 2. Place baby carrots and Brussel sprouts in a big bowl. Pour 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil over the vegetables, sprinkle with 1 tsp ras el hanout spice mix and salt & pepper and rub it into the vegetables to make sure they’re evenly coated with oil and spices. Transfer the vegetables to an oven tray and bake for around 15 minutes until golden brown. When ready, remove from the oven and cool down for a few minutes.
- 3. In the meantime, place ½ cup quinoa and water in a pan and bring to a boil. Add turmeric and salt & pepper into the pan, mix well, cover and simmer for around 10-15 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Take off the heat, flake with a fork and let cool down for a few minutes.
- 4. In a spate little bowl, make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together.
- 5. Combine roasted vegetables and quinoa in one big bowl. Add salad leaves and pomegranate seeds. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and mix well.
- 6. Garnish with roasted chickpeas (if using), pecan nuts, more pomegranate seeds and fresh coriander.