When I stumbled upon these two shredded carrot recipes, I had a culinary flashback. I vaguely recalled a salad of carrots and raisins dressed with mayonnaise, that I enjoyed as a child.
These two recipes for Salade de Carottes Rápée come from noted Francophiles David Lebovitz and Dorie Greenspan and are amazingly similar to what my mother made during the postwar era. According to David—who lives and writes from Paris these days—the bright, crunchy dish can be found throughout France, from school cafeterias to sidewalk cafes. But the French give it a far more impressive name: Salade de Carottes Râpée.
What’s So Special about a Pile of Carrots?
But, you say, the recipe is nothing more than a raw root vegetable bathed in a tangy vinaigrette. Yes, that’s so, but it’s quite tasty and nutritious and can be made easily at home. It’s the pure, unadulterated, simplicity of the ingredients, that makes for its popularity.
60 Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong
In his blog, David Lebovitz ranks Salade de Carottes Râpée among the top 5 classic French dishes, but says if you ask 60 million of the French how to make it, you’ll get 60 million recipes.
Despite the many forms of this recipe, my mother, and all of France would agree that you start with grated carrots. The French have a special device—a moulinex hachoir a legumes–that grates the carrots quickly for the home kitchen. Actually, a box grater works just as well, but beware knicked knuckles.
In David’s version, the shredded carrots are dressed lightly with a mixture of fresh squeezed lemon, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper. But cookbook writer Dorie Greenspan ups the ante by adding nuts, raisins and parsley. Those wanting a better-rounded meal often add chickpeas for a protein boost.
Below are slightly adapted versions of both recipes. I wound up preferring Dorie’s nutty-fruity-parsley combo, but with David’s lemony vinaigrette. Now I understand why he says there are 60 million variations to the recipe in France alone.
Dorie Greenspan’s Salade de Carottes Râpée (Carrot Salad)
- 1 lbs. carrots, peeled and trimmed
- 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbs. honey
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup mild oil, such as canola
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Handful of dried cranberries/and or raisins
- Walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped, optional
- Fresh parsley, chopped, optional
- Grate the carrots by hand, using the large holes of a box grater, or by pushbutton, using the grating blade of a food processor. Either way, if the grating causes the carrots to weep, press them between your palms to rid them of excess liquid before you toss them into a serving bowl.
- If you’ve used a processor, make the dressing in it; if not, use a small jar. Put the mustard, honey, vinegar, and oil in the processor or jar, season with salt and pepper, and whir or shake until blended—you’ll have a thick, smooth vinaigrette. (Or whisk the dressing together in a small bowl.)
- Toss carrots with the currants, and nuts, if you’re using them. Just before serving, pour over the dressing, toss well, and adjust the salt and pepper if needed. Add parsley, if desired. (Recipe slightly adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s My French Table.)
David Lebovitz Carottes de Râpée (Carrot Salad)
The Lebovitz version can be told in one sentence: Make a dressing by mixing together the juice of two lemons, 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil, a bit of sugar or maple syrup, salt, and fresh ground pepper—though he admits to sometimes adding a dab of Dijon mustard.