Brightly Colored Vegetable Salad with Chermoula Dressing

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.

Servings: 4


  • 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.

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24 thoughts on “Brightly Colored Vegetable Salad with Chermoula Dressing”

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  1. This will bring a little bit of sunshine to winter in this part of the world while we wait for the real thing.

    1. Well said! It’s been warmer then usual here in Michigan but its still cold and now there is fresh snow on the ground. Some sun but definitely more clouds.

      A bright dish this is!

      1. I don’t mind the fresh snow – at least it looks pretty and fresh. Its the old, slushy snow and occasional icy patches on sidewalks that I dislike.

  2. I am totally going to make this today. It’s like Mark custom-designed a recipe for ingredients I actually have on-hand. I just bought green beans, parsley and cilantro and I already had everything else. Nice. And, lunch!

  3. Yum! It IS cheerful. I have the salad ingredients on hand – but not the dressing ingredients. I do, however, have plenty of home made pesto in the freezer that I am looking for new (non-pasta) ways to use. So, until I can get to the store I will try this recipe with pesto.

  4. Since my wife and I gave up soybean-oil base dressings, we find that we go through a LOT more olive oil, and are always looking for more dressings to use it in. Thanks for posting this–can’t wait to try it 🙂

    1. I’ve got one that my family uses. As a matter of fact, this is the one I loved the most growing up. I can’t remember the exact measurements for the oil, vinegar, and water mixture, but you can sort of mess with it. Chop up about 2-3 garlic cloves and toss it into that mix. About a tablespoon of dill, dry or fresh. You’ll need more if it’s fresh. Add the salt to taste. Sometimes I’ll use a herbs d’province(sp?) mix instead, but I always have garlic in there. About half a lemon’s worth of fresh lemon juice is nice too.

      1. I do a similar dressing with a Tuscan herb mix and balsamic vinegar. I bet there are many variations on this theme.

  5. Looks tasty! I think I already have most of the ingredients in the fridge.

    Today is day 1 for me on the 21 day program. I have four trash bags on my front porch right now. Only about 2 of them are full of purged junk. I found some stuff hiding in the back of my cabinets and trashed all that too! Today, I had to tell my daughter that I wasn’t buying waffle mix, even if it was from Natural Grocers.

    1. For the occasional waffle fix you can make coconut flour waffles. They freeze well and with 12 eggs for 4 waffles and only a 1/2 cup of coconut flour, not a bad on the go breakfast. for the recipe if interested.

  6. The ingredient list for this is very closee to that of zhoug, if you replace the paprika with a hot green pepper like jalapeno. Zhoug is the secret ingredient in my famous “green omelette”, it’s fantastic with eggs and I bet this would be too.

  7. This stuff is downright excellent over hard boiled eggs.

  8. This looks sensational! I’ve got some bell peppers that need to be used so I’ll be trying out this recipe

  9. That looks amazing! I can’t wait to try it with a big heaping helping of grass fed beef as a side dish!

  10. Great pictures which make it look very appealing…I have heard a lot about phytonutrients and I will definitely give this a try.

  11. I thought that green beans were discouraged because they are legumes. So, I was surprised that they were included in this recipe.

  12. This recipe sounds great except that I don’t like cilantro. Is there something else that would be good to replace it with?