Although a knobby old root vegetable has it charms, the eye-catching hues of brightly colored veggies are much harder to resist. Luckily, when it comes to the gorgeous red, yellow, purple, orange and green hues of brightly-colored vegetables, their beauty isn’t only skin deep.
As discussed earlier in the week, brightly colored vegetables are valuable for their potentially health-promoting plant pigments. The strategy for adding these pigments into your diet is simple: eat a wide variety of brightly colored vegetables. You can stir fry them, sauté them, lightly steam the veggies or, easiest of all, eat them raw. To make a plate of raw veggies more interesting, a bold dressing is in order and chermoula is just the thing.
Although chermoula looks pesto-like and is often referred to as a North African version of pesto, the flavor is quite different. You only have to stick your nose in the bowl and take a whiff to know that what follows will be herbaceous and bit smoky from the paprika and cumin. Chermoula (sometimes also spelled charmoula) is more aggressive, less creamy and in some ways more versatile than pesto. It can dress any brightly colored vegetable you can find, whether raw or cooked, and also makes a nice topping for sulfur-rich veggies like Brussels sprouts and cabbage. Chermoula is also fantastic on fish, steak and chicken either as a sauce or a marinade before cooking.
If you taste the chermoula straight from the bowl, the flavors will seem disjointed and a little mild, but once the sauce is poured over vegetables and given a little time to soak in, the flavor really comes alive. When generously coated in chermoula, a simple bowl of bell peppers, carrots and green beans transforms into a dish everyone will be talking about at the table. Try the dressing over this trio of brightly colored vegetables, or choose an entirely different combination. There’s not really a vegetable out there with which chermoula can’t be enjoyed.
1/2 pound green beans
3 Bell peppers of different colors, sliced
2-4 carrots, grated or sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup roughly chopped, loosely packed cilantro
1/2 cup roughly chopped, loosely packed parsley
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (lightly toasted in a pan) or 1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/3 cup olive oil
Sea salt to taste
Optional: a pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes
Bring a pot of water to a boil then add green beans for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
In a large bowl mix together green beans, peppers and carrots. Set aside.
In a food processor blend all remaining ingredients, except olive oil, until finely chopped.
Then, slowly drizzle the olive oil in until the texture is similar to pesto. Add plenty of sea salt to taste. To make the dressing spicier, add cayenne or red pepper flakes.
Cover the veggies with the chermoula and toss so everything is covered. If possible, let the salad sit for a little bit so the veggies soak up the flavor more.
Alone in a covered container, the chermoula dressing will keep at least a week. Bring up to room temperature before using – straight out of the fridge the flavors are less pronounced.