Josh Wiener’s Moroccan Carrot Salad with Mint and Spices has always been a favorite of mine. Josh brought it to my house years ago for a pot luck and it disappeared almost as soon as I put it out. When I asked him for the recipe, he quickly sent it to me.
You won’t meet many people as extraordinary as Josh Wiener. He died suddenly last week and my heart aches for his family. A mutual friend encouraged me to write this post. I do so now as a tribute to Josh and a way to honor his memory. I’ll get to the recipe soon, but first, a bit about Josh.
Josh Wiener had a distinguished academic and professional career. However, you would never have known that if you talked to him about other subjects. In a town like Washington, DC (where we live), all too many people find ways to let you about themselves and their accomplishments as soon as you meet them. Not Josh.
With degrees from the University of Chicago and Harvard, Josh wrote or edited eight books and over 200 articles. His area of expertise was long term care and the National Academy of Social Insurance dubbed him the “Dean of Long Term Care.” Yet he always cared first about his family, his wonderful wife (my good friend) Susan Klinger, and their three marvelous sons, Jeremy, Noah, and Michael. He loved music, museums, good books and great food. Josh was an incredible cook and enjoyed sharing food with family and friends. Needless to say, we bonded over our mutual interests. In particular, I always enjoyed conversations about what he had made, what we were then eating, or restaurants he loved. I always took his advice and he never steered me wrong.
Josh was one of the most generous people I’ve ever met. Family members, friends and colleagues’ stories about him often revolve around how he helped them. I was one of those lucky people. Years ago, I called him with a question about my parent’s long term care insurance. He helped me puzzle out the answer and made me feel as if my concern was the most important thing to him at that moment. What a mensch!
I’ll miss him. This version of his Moroccan Carrot Salad with Mint and Spices is one way I’ll keep his memory and his gifts in my heart.
The ingredients for this Moroccan Carrot Salad are simple and easily accessible.
At the top of the “recipe” he sent to me, Josh wrote “This is approximate. I don’t use a recipe.” Given that note, I suspect he had not previously written down his version. I provide the ingredients and instructions just as Josh gave them to me. My suggestions or comments are in the notes.
Josh Wiener's Moroccan Carrot Salad
This salad is perfect for a pot luck or buffet. It tastes even better the second day, so it's a great dish to make ahead for a crowd.
- 3 pounds peeled carrots (Pre-peeled mini-carrots are fine and will save you a lot of time)
- 1/3 cup cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- generous grinding of pepper
- a dash or two of hot pepper sauce
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons dried mint
- 2 tablespoons capers
Mix all of the ingredients except for the carrots in a measuring cup or small bowl.
Boil carrots until barely cooked. They should shill be crisp - there should be a lot of resistance when you bite into them, but they should definitely feel somewhat cooked. DO NOT OVERCOOK.
Put hot, cooked carrots in a colander and run cold water over them until you can just barely handle them. They should still be pretty hot.
Place slightly cooked carrots in food processor in 3 batches. Using pulse action, chop carrots until they are in fairly small pieces. DO NOT PUREE. Empty into large bowl. Carrots will still be warm.
Add the dressing and mix gently.
Chill at least 2 hours. Carrots will absorb dressing. Taste and adjust seasonings and dressing.
I prefer large carrots to the mini version. Large carrots vary in size, so you'll have to judge based on the carrots you have. Three pounds is approximately 12 medium-large carrots.
If you use large carrots, cut them into approximately equal size chunks for cooking.
For cooking, let the water come to a rolling boil before adding the carrots. It took my carrots about 5 minutes to cook, covered, at a rolling boil.
I consulted with Josh's wife Susan about the salad and we both agreed that we prefer less garlic than Josh liked. I use about 2 small-medium cloves.
For an extra kick, I add Aleppo pepper, but if you don't have any, just taste and if you want it spicier, add more hot pepper sauce. I used a Mexican hot sauce. To be authentic, you would probably use harissa, which is Middle Eastern.