French Bistro Carrot Salad

If you think you are not a big fan of the ordinary carrot this simple recipe may change your mind!
We didn’t see many salads or vegetable dishes on the cafe and bistro menus in Paris, but there was one vegetable that is so popular it appears everywhere:  freshly grated carrot salad or salade de carottes rapees.”  This ultra simple salad is often served as a garnish the way we would serve a small dish of coleslaw here at home.  You can find it in the take-out sections of high-end food shops and in the packaged food section in corner grocery stores. That’s how popular it is!  Sometimes you are served a small pile of naked carrots, nothing else, and sometimes there will be a wedge of lemon alongside. Occasionally the julienned carrots are dressed with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper.
I didn’t think much of this salad when I first tried it. Often I just left it on my plate, but over time I began to appreciate what a perfect, light, refreshing, flavorful side it is. Although it doesn’t need much I do like the shredded carrots tossed with a teaspoon or two of my favorite vinaigrette right before serving.
My Favorite Vinaigrette
 
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
chopped fresh herbs (flat leaf parsley in this version)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2/3 cup olive oil
Whisk together vinegar, mustard, honey, salt and pepper.
Slowly whisk in olive oil until dressing has a creamy consistency.
Add chopped herbs.
Since carrots are the star of this recipe it is important that they are the freshest, best quality carrots you can find.  Not a difficult search if you have a farmers’ market close by where you can purchase carrots that were in the ground a few days before market day. I like to grate a dozen peeled carrots, keep them in the fridge, and dress them with a few drops of vinaigrette when I’m ready for lunch or dinner. I grate them with the coarse disk in my food processor or use the largest holes in my box grater.  I think the coarse size keeps the carrots crisper and fresher tasting longer.  A julienne peeler works nicely as well if the carrots are peeled just before serving. I’ve seen versions of this so simple salad that contain raisins, avocado, beets, and celery root to name a few, but I think it is the absolute best when prepared in this no-frills way.
 Now that I’m used to a small serving of salade de carottes rapees with my meals my plate looks bare without it.  Often I’m happy with a little plate of salade, a slice of baguette and some cheese for lunch.  This wonderful salad will have a prominent place on our table through the coming summer when our menus build around grilled and barbecued meats, burgers and grilled dogs. Carrot salad along side a scoop of potato salad is so colorful and appetizing on any plate.  I hope you will give this recipe a try.  It’s such an easy way to add a very healthy vegetable to your menus.  And if your family and friends want to know why they have carrots on their plates tell them that’s the way the French do it.  So there!

Comments

  1. Susan says

    Lovely. The French really know what they are doing with vegetables. So glad you finally started eating this in Paris. It is yummy, isn't it?

  2. A Feast for the Eyes says

    Perfect! I have some Farmer's Market carrots and wondered what to make with them. Looks terrific.

  3. Barbara says

    It looks perfect, Cathy. The color is marvelous and your vinaigrette is a winner. I've never made a carrot salad, but I've seen some lovely carrots and think I will correct that ASAP!

  4. From the Kitchen says

    Our farmer's market opens the first Saturday of June and I can't wait. We love carrot salad and I'm going to use your dressing which is lighter than mine. It does dress up a plate quite deliciously!

    Best,
    Bonnie

  5. Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen says

    This sounds almost too good to be true Cathy. I always have carrots left over from something and this is a great way to use them and get your vitamins too. Thanks for making carrots a la francais.

    Love that plate. Did you bring it home with you from Paris?
    Sam

  6. Rettabug says

    Sooo pretty & GOOD for you, too, especially for night vision. We all need that!

    Funny thing…I just sent a copy of Pam's (from Sidewalk Shoes) recipe for carrot salad to my sisters this morning. She used lemon juice in her's instead of honey, but it is otherwise almost the same as yours.

    Here is a link to it:

    http://www.sidewalkshoes.com/2011/05/carrot-salad.html

    I'm going to try it both ways.

    Come back to see the pretty picture I posted this morning of my marinated veggies. It really turned out cool. :-) I'm getting better at these photo shoots. LOL

    Hugs to you, Hon & thank you for sharing all your delicious recipes & ideas. You truly inspire me with each & every one of them.

    fondly,
    Rett

  7. Pam says

    I would never think to make a carrot salad but I think you are right – it's light, refreshing, and healthy. It looks wonderful and so does your vinaigrette.

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