If you were to poll French households about the one dish they make on a regular basis, it would likely be this ultimate French carrot salad. I grew up with it. Maman made it at home. It would be served at the school canteen. The local butcher/deli shop as well as the supermarket would sell it by the pound or in individual to-go containers. It’s on the menu of probably every bistro in France (as part of an “assiette de crudités”, sometimes).
It’s delicious. Healthy. Oh, so simple! And I am yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like it, even the pickiest eaters.
What’s in the ultimate French carrot salad?
Carrots are considered a perfect health food. We’ve all heard our mother tell us to eat them to get a beautiful skin, or to have better eye sight…Ironically, some of these claims result from a World War II propaganda campaign aimed at deceiving the Germans (no, carrots do not really improve your night time vision. Radars do. And nowadays, night vision goggles). But in all honesty, carrots are a good source of several crucial vitamins and minerals. Particularly beta carotene, vitamin K1, potassium, and many plant compounds, especially carotenoids, such as beta carotene and lutein. They are also a great source of fiber.
Lemon. The ultimate source of vitamin C!
Extra virgin olive oil. A staple of the Mediterranean Diet. It is by now universally acknowledged that it is one of the healthiest sources of fat you can consume. But if you still need to be convinced, check out this article in Medical News Today
Parsley! More vitamins (K, A and C) and powerful plant compounds.
And finally: garlic! The other quintessential Mediterranean Diet staple loaded with health benefits. I like a bit of garlic in my carrot salad, but if you are serving picky eaters that can’t stand even a hint of raw garlic, just omit it. It’s optional.
Some recipes I have run across on various websites add sugar (non non non…!) or raisins (mon Dieu, ce n’est pas Français!). Pure blasphemy. I have banned these websites from my search lists.
What is the best way to shred carrots
Hands down: a food processor with a shredding disk. That is the most painless and safest method.
Second best would be a shredder attachment for a stand mixer. That’s actually what Maman used in her kitchen back in the day…
Third option is a box grater. It will, however, require some elbow grease. And the danger of incorporating a bit of flesh and blood in your salad ;-(
How fine you shred your carrots is a matter of personal preference and experimentation. The finer you shred them, the more tender they will be, but also the more juice they will render. This salad can easily sit in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days and the carrots will continue to soften anyway. If you prefer it on the crunchy side, use a larger shredding size.
So, grab some carrots and try this at home! Pour yourself a glass of red wine and imagine yourself sitting at a bistro terrace in Paris. Pure bliss!
Oh, and if you buy fresh carrots with nice green tops, make sure you save them and make our Carrot top pesto!
Other recipes to try:
The ultimate French carrot salad
- Peel and shred your carrots. Place them in a bowl.
- Add finely minced garlic.
- Squeeze lemon juice over the bowl. Add 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Toss well. Add parsley and toss again.
- Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.