top of page

Salade de carottes râpées? Or, just grated carrot salad? Either way, it's quick easy, and tasty.

Updated: Jan 10, 2022

Salade de carottes râpées is beloved in France. It's found on 'le menu' in bistros across the country. I can pick up a container of it in any charcuterie or grocery store, including my favorite Carrefours in Issoire. The good news is that you can add this authentic bit of French cuisine to your own repertoire in minutes. For pennies.

I can't imagine not having a big bin of carrots in my fridge at all times. I don't consider those small bags of 'baby' carrots to be anything other than snacks for small children. They're simply useless for real cooking. And, they're fake. Really. They're big carrots that are pulled from the ground, cleaned, chopped and then shaved into those little expensive nuggets. Yes, expensive. Ounce for ounce, they cost more than their larger, more useful cousins. Originally, the California farmer who invented them was looking for a way to use the less than Instagram-ready carrot. Fine, but then the idea took off, became insanely popular, and perfectly good carrots were becoming 'baby' carrots.

I buy BIG carrots. The biggest that I can find that look fresh and tasty. And, preferably with the tops. Those tops are 'gold'. Big carrots give you unlimited options for slicing, dicing, grating or even roasting whole.

Carrots are magnificent. They're so versatile, simple, complex, forgiving, delicious and nutritious. Plus, they come with a richly textured history. It's thought that they originated in what is now Iran and Turkey, and spread across Europe not as a food crop but rather as a medicinal herb. Long, tough, skinny and often 'forked', the Romans thought they were a pretty decent aphrodisiac. Carrots are pictured on the walls of Egyptian tombs.

It wasn't until the 1600-1700's that carrot cultivation got serious in Europe (orange carrots) and then in India and China (red carrots). The French horticulturist Louis de Vilmorin is responsible for developing the popular Nantes and Chantenay carrot varieties. After the First World War, carrots were 'discovered' in the United States as returning soldiers had developed a taste for them in Europe. So, it's hardly surprising that les Français aiment leurs carottes!

I believe that grating carrots is the 'why' behind the invention of the food processor. Yeah, sure, I could have got the box grater out for this, and usually do when it's a one carrot job. But, when you've got more than that, get the 'big guns' out. And, wouldn't you know it, a Frenchman invented the food processor. Pierre Verdon's Le Magi-Mix, a compact household version of his own earlier restaurant-scaled Robot-Coupe, was first exhibited in Paris in 1971. Carl Sontheimer, an American engineer and inventor, refined Verdon’s machines to produce the Cuisinart.

The food processor, fitted with the grating blade, makes quick work of the carrots. I love the mix of those heritage carrot colors! Here's a little secret: sometimes I include one of those raw orange beets. It adds an 'earthy' flavor!

Here's the first instance where I diverge from the basic, classic recipe for Salade de carottes râpées, as written by Dorie Greenspan in her cookbook Around My French Table ( a 'must have' for anybody seriously channeling their own inner French chef). She uses walnuts, and I opt for pistachios. I just love the color mixed in with the oranges, yellows and purples.

Crushing a handful of pistachios is easy. Get out your pastry rolling pin. Put the nuts on a board, and roll over them until they're crushed to your satisfaction. Fast. Easy. Peasy.

Here's the second place that I diverge from the classic recipe. I'm assuming you bought a bunch of carrots with glorious tops attached? Oui? Take some of those tops and chop them up for the salade. Now, you're thinking very, very French. Don't waste anything. The French are masters of not wasting food. I keep the remaining tops in my salad keeper. They make an incredible oil-free pesto when combined with pistachios, some Aquafaba, garlic, onion powder ... maybe a few drained chickpeas. Prepare to be amazed. A carrot top pesto will elevate soups like you can't believe, and can become a salad dressing with the addition of some fresh lemon juice, Dijon mustard or white wine vinegar.

Honey. To taste. I probably used about a quarter cup to start. Adjust to your preference - depending on how much mustard and vinegar you use. The flavors need to balance. Oh, and please use local honey whenever possible. That way, you're supporting local beekeepers and keeping bees healthy and viable is essential to keeping our food supplies healthy and viable. But, if you don't have a good local honey, please consider buying your honey (and honey wine vinegar) from my cousins in Utah? Slide Ridge Honey. Mendon, Utah.

Yeah, you could use that fancy brand of Dijon mustard. Or, not. It's nice, but I'm not always willing to pay the higher price for a label. This one is perfectly good. It depends on how you're using it. For simple everyday use - such as a salad dressing - then opt for the 'house label'. When you want something 'more', my favorite is the Maille brand.

Combine the salad with the honey and mustard. Taste. Here's where the real 'balancing' happens. Add a splash or two of white wine vinegar. Combine. Taste. Adjust. Salt and pepper can now come to play.

In closing, you don't need a recipe for this. All you need is:

Carrots - grated.

Honey - to taste.

Mustard - to taste.

White wine vinegar - to taste.

Salt and pepper - to taste.

If you've got carrot tops, great. If you don't, some dried thyme works. Maybe some tarragon. Even a bit of dill weed.

Don't make this complicated. Keep it simple and enjoy.

Bon appetit!

Hey, if you like or make this dish, would you mind posting the recipe to Yummly? I'd really appreciate that. The Yummly icon is on the right side of this webpage. Oh, and saving to Pinterest would also be great! Each photo should have a Pinterest icon in the upper left corner! Thanks!

This button will take you to PayPal where you can securely pop a bit in the 'tip jar'.

73 views0 comments


bottom of page