French carrot salad, known in France as “Salade des Carottes Râpées”, is a classic French dish that elegantly combines the delicate balance of sweet raw carrot with a tangy lemon dijon vinaigrette.
When I lived in Paris, this was my go-to snack to fuel up before heading off to culinary school. And when I realized how simple it was, I started making it on the regular. You’ll find a few variations on this French Carrot Salad recipe (with cumin seeds, honey, red wine vinegar, or feta), but this is the one I turn to repeatedly.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
This French Carrot Salad is simple, but don’t let that fool you – this French classic is a bistro staple and a favorite among French kids and adults alike. This classic French salad is a testament to the elegance of French cooking, where even the simplest ingredients are transformed into something sublime.
French mothers often serve this as a lovely side dish, appreciating its health benefits and the ease with which it can be prepared. It’s not just a dish but a part of the French lifestyle, often seen in shop windows of French supermarkets, reflecting the raw food culture deeply ingrained in French society.
The beauty of French Carrot Salad lies in its simplicity and the freshness of its ingredients. The main components of this delightful salad include:
- Raw carrots: The star of the dish, providing a sweet crunch and vibrant color.
- Dijon mustard: Adds a tangy depth of flavor, a staple in French salad dressings.
- Fresh parsley: Flat-leaf or curly parsley can be used for a fresh, herby touch.
- Lemon Dijon vinaigrette: A mix of lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and Dijon mustard, bringing the salad to life with its bright and tangy flavor.
Optional additions can include a touch of red wine vinegar, some citrus zest, or a sprinkling of additional chopped herbs (tarragon, chives, or chervil) for extra flavor.
How to Make French Carrot Salad Recipe
Creating this simple carrot salad is straightforward. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
Grate The Carrots: Use a food processor with a grating attachment or the large holes of a box grater to shred the carrots. The goal is to have delicate, thin strips of carrot, which can also be achieved with a julienne peeler.
Combining Salad Ingredients: Place the carrot in a mixing bowl, add mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, and zest, and stir. Ensure the carrots are well coated. At this stage, you can stir salt and pepper and a handful of chopped parsley or fresh herbs for a fresh, herby kick.
Serve: French carrot salad is best served at room temperature. It can be a wonderful addition to your meal as a side dish or enjoyed as a light, healthy option.
What to Serve with French Carrot Salad
This versatile salad pairs well with a variety of dishes. It’s light and refreshing, making it a perfect companion to heavier main courses.
Serve it alongside lentil soup, grilled meats, or fish, or incorporate it into a meal with quiche or a sandwich. It’s also a favorite recipe in your back pocket for last-minute guests, as it’s quick to prepare and always a hit.
Tips for the Perfect French Carrot Salad
- Freshness is Key: Use the freshest carrots you can find for the best taste and texture.
- Balance the Flavors: The lemon dijon vinaigrette should have a delicate balance of tangy and smooth – adjust the ingredients to suit your taste.
- Let It Marinate: For the flavors to meld together beautifully, let the salad sit for a little while before serving.
- Storage: If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The salad tastes even better the next day as the flavors have more time to blend together.
Frequently Asked Questions
French Carrot Salad is a classic dish commonly found in French cuisine. It's a simple yet flavorful salad made from grated carrots, dressed with a zesty vinaigrette typically made of lemon juice, Dijon mustard, olive oil, and seasoned with salt, pepper, and herbs like parsley.
Yes, French Carrot Salad can be made in advance. In fact, letting it sit for a few hours allows the flavors to meld together more fully. It's best to add the fresh herbs just before serving to keep their flavor vibrant
French Carrot Salad pairs well with a variety of dishes. It's commonly served as a starter or side dish alongside quiche, grilled meats, or sandwiches. It's also a refreshing addition to a picnic or potluck menu. We like to eat it as is topped with hot smoked salmon for an easy lunch.
French Carrot Salad Recipe
- 2 pounds carrots peeled and ends trimmed
- 1/4 cup Dijon Mustard (used Old Fashioned style or the smooth style)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley or chives or tarragon or chervil (or a combination of all)
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- zest 1 lemon or orange
- kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Grate The Carrots: Fit a food processor with the grating blade. With the processor running, feed carrots down the tube to grate them. (Use the hopper to push carrots through.) Alternatively, grate carrots on the large holes of a box grater. (You should have about 6 cups.)
- Make The Carrot Salad: Place the carrots in a large nonreactive bowl and add the olive oil, mustard, lemon or orange juice, lemon or orange zest, herbs, and a pinch of salt. Mix together until the carrots are well coated. Season well with freshly ground black pepper. Let marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes and serve.(Salad can be made up to 2 days in advance. Store refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use.)