The French Carrot Salad We’ll Be Making All Summer Long
How is your relationship going with your box grater? Up until recently, I seldom got together with mine outside of our weekly lunchtime quesadilla dates. Then I discovered Rebekah Peppler’s “extremely French” carrot salad.
Carottes râpées is a simple grated-then-marinated carrot salad flavored with lemon juice, cumin, parsley or cilantro, and a touch of honey. It’s a staple of classic bistros and grab-and-go boucheries alike. Now it makes regular appearances in my kitchen too.
A French Carrot Salad and a French-ish Playlist
Peppler’s recipe comes from her wonderful recent cookbook À Table, an edible ode to the pared-down French approach to eating and gathering. Besides carrots, the most important ingredient is time. First, you quickly create wispy carrot shavings with the large holes of a box grater or a food processor outfitted with a grater attachment. It’s officially my new favorite way to dispatch with large root vegetables (up next: beets).
Next, the carrots are tossed with coarsely chopped parsley or cilantro and saturated with a tangy-sweet dressing of olive oil, fresh lemon juice, ground cumin, salt, and honey.
Now, time comes into play. A few hours of marination transforms those carrots into a bright, slightly-earthy tangle.
The resulting salad is as delicious served alongside roast chicken as it is mixed into couscous or farro for a quick grain bowl. Plus it ranks high on picnic-ability, my ultimate scale for any recipe I cook from now until October.
Ready to get grating? Queue up your favorite cooking music for motivation or borrow my French-ish playlist for some Left Bank vibes. Then read on for my cook’s notes.
My Cook’s Notes (to Embrace or Ignore)
1. Give it time.
Yes, this salad is delicious as soon as carrots and dressing are combined. But allowing the salad to marinate yields a tender, well-saturated salad that’s well worth the wait. Plan ahead for two hours of marination if you can, but even waiting just half an hour will have noticeable results.
2. Get ready for an arm workout (or find a food processor).
This says more about my own level of fitness than this recipe, but grating a pound of carrots can feel like a workout! I used the large holes of a box grater but if you dream of long, slender shreds of carrots, look for a French rotary grater called a “mouli julienne.” (Etsy and Ebay have a few good contenders).
Turn up the music for some extra motivation to grate through the burn, or enlist help from anyone lingering near the kitchen. If you own a food processor with a grater attachment, use it!
3. Riff with the dressing.
This salad dressing is all about letting a pared-down ingredient list shine. But if you’re more of a flavor maximalist, lean into it. I’ve been adding a few shakes of red pepper flakes and lots of freshly cracked black pepper to contrast the sweetness with a bit of heat. Dijon mustard, tarragon, or pimentón all sound like excellent additions too.
4. Mix and match.
You could eat this whole salad out of the bowl and be satisfied. But lately I’ve taken to making a big batch to use in other meals for a few days. Layer the dressed carrots into sandwiches or lay them atop avocado toast! Toss ‘em into leafy greens for a bulkier salad! Serve alongside grilled meat or fish! Mix into cooked pearl couscous, farro, or your preferred whole grain for a hearty lunch bowl. With a container of carrot salad tucked into your fridge, a quick lunch is never far away.
Get the recipe: Rebekah Peppler’s Extremely French Carrot Salad from Basically