Grated carrot salad — French style!

Several readers have written to me asking for this recipe. Enjoy!

Grated carrot salad is a favorite dish for French kids. They eat it regularly for school lunch, and it’s popular at home as well. Even adults enjoy it as a starter. As a testament to its popularity, you can even find grated carrot salad pre-packaged in supermarkets (as one of the few salads which you can buy pre-prepared).

The fresh version is infinitely better, because the secret of this salad is in the texture: finely grated raw carrots that are simultaneously crisp and melt-in-your-mouth. They more finely grated the carrots, the more the natural sweetness of the carrots will dominate the flavor of this dish. For kids who have a hard time with crunchier textures, this might just be the dish that convinces them they love carrots.

8 large carrots
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of one orange
Juice of half a lemon
One bunch flat leaf parsley
Optional: a dash of Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt

Dressing: Mix the orange and lemon juice with the olive oil and the salt. Store separately until just before serving. You may want to add more oil, or lemon, depending on your tastes. But don’t overdress this salad! It should be nicely coated, but not swimming in the dressing.

Carrots: Peel the carrots. This is important, because the skin is often more bitter than the interior! Grate the carrots in fine shreds using a hand grater or machine. (These food mills are popular in France, and make fine, delicate shredded carrot—if you have one, use it!) The finer the strands, the more delicious the salad.

Parsley: Chop a quarter bunch of flat leaf parsley, in fine, small (I mean teeny, tiny) pieces. Make sure you don’t include any of the stems—just the leaves. Note: you don’t want dried parsley, as the fresh parsley offsets the texture of the carrots perfectly, whereas dried parsley tends to taste a bit crunchier and, well, dry.

Combine the carrots, parsley, and dressing just before serving. Best served slightly chilled or at room temperature.

Bon Appétit!

Ps Funny French Fact: Carrots are one of the few vegetables that French people regularly eat raw. For some reason, they tend to prefer most of their vegetables cooked (raw broccoli, even when served with a ‘vegetable dip’ is not something my mother-in-law approves of, for example!). I’ve never found a satisfactory answer to the question of why this is so. If you have an explanation, let me know!

25 thoughts on “Grated carrot salad — French style!

  1. I love thia salad and it has become a family favorite. Incidentally it was not a French person who first introduced me to it. It was Dr Ray Peat PhD. He claims it is a wonderful food to eat because it can clear the body of excessive estrogen which as we know is causing health problems. His recipe has coconut oil and apple cider vinegar. It’s so delicious and my kids love it too.

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  2. I am loving your book and made this salad to go with lunch today for my three year old and myself. Wonder of wonders he loved it. Thank you so much. I am on a whole foods journey with my family trying to fill in some of the missing puzzle pieces of getting the whole family to eat well. Your book is truly another piece in the puzzle.

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  3. Pingback: School lunch in France | rainbow bento

  4. This looks great! I love that there are fresh oranges in it – quite different!
    I made my version of a carrot salad on my blog, so it would be great if you could check it out! :) thanks!

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  5. I have also eaten the carrot salad at Mon Ami Gabi in Las Vegas! I have been looking for a recipe for this for years! This sounds like the carrot salad there and I am anxious to try this out today.

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  6. I wondered if ages 9 and 12 were too old to really use the French approach that Karen describes. Apparently not according to your recent experience.

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  7. The Mouli in the photo is a food mill used to purée cooked vegetables etc for soup, mashed potatoes etc. The other moulin legumes is used to grate cheese, raw vegetables, chocolate etc. It has flat disks, three legs and a crank handle. I have both and my French friends laugh at them and say their grandmothers used them!

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  8. Having grown up in a French-American School (K thru 8th), in the US, I’m sad to say we didn’t have a lunch program back then (and the one now is simply American), but we did have extensive lessons on nutrition and food laced into our daily learning and were exposed to fresh French cuisine at every opportunity. We were taught then, that vegetables should be cooked for easier and better digestion.

    I remember one teacher saying that vegetables, have their own natural pesticides to keep bugs away and, though quite small doses for humans, it can still be hard on the body to digest, particularly for children.

    Cooking vegetables (properly, not over cooking) not only breaks down these natural defensive barriers in the vegetables, but also bring the beneficial vitamins etc to the fore. Over cooking, however can lead to quick loss of those same vitamins.

    My teachers would also tell us that it is because of that, that vegetables that are grown underground, (such as carrots, beets etc), don’t necessarily need to be cooked because that part of the plant isn’t in danger of pest exposure and so isn’t producing the natural pesticide.

    Another reason they gave for cooking of vegetables was the “very simple” reason that vegetables are a roughage, and due to evolution we are no longer as capable of breaking down the roughage as easily. The organ that is used for high roughage diets, the appendix, has shriveled up and is essentially useless, thus, again it is harder to digest and is taxing on the body.

    I’m not sure if that’s all true, but that’s what my teachers used to tell us. I’d love to hear what others have hear or learned of this and if it is at all an accurate French view or just my crazy teachers.

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  9. I’d like to know what kind of food mill the French use. I thought a food mill was to make more of a puree, or separate tomato pulp from the seeds. Don’t the carrots just end up like mush?

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  10. Thank you Karen for a great book re-confirming what I have always believed in!

    As a French mum living for many years in English-speaking countries (South Africa, the UK and currently in Sydney, Australia), I have sometimes forgotten (a little) about French food and how good the French approach is. Your book has helped me to remember things I had forgotten as well as given me ideas for easy everyday recipes. I borrowed it while on holiday in Tasmania but I actually intend to buy it so my (Australian) partner (who snacks all day long) can read it. Essential reading, I think….!

    When it comes to raw vegetables, the French actually are big fans of “une assiette de crudites” which is basically a plate full of certain raw vegetables cut up and displayed in an attractive manner, usually with a dip in the middle (not raw broccoli though, which I have to admit does sound a little odd to me! :-)

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  11. cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower, are full of goitrogens if eaten raw. other vegetables have phytates. the gaps and scd diet, which are diets for healing the gut, recommend at least steaming many vegetables to get rid of . spinach is healthier cooked as well. vitamins are more bio-available. my italian mom used to always say cooked was better, and i thought she was crazy. but now i’ve learned she had a really good point.

    also, the vitamins need fat for the body to absorb them. so warmed vegetables with melted butter are a perfect combination!

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  12. Many French seem to believe that raw veggies are hard on the digestive track, although I have recently found some “raw food – cuisine vivante” websites in French…most prefer to cook their veggies. I am American and my hubby is French, I lived there 8 years and we are now raising our sons in the US. I LOVED your book as it really helped me understand so many cultural differences. Even though I fit in pretty well in France… there were (and are) still things that baffled me. Thanks so much for this wonderful addition to our reference books on parenting! I couldn’t put the book down. My kids, thankfully, enjoy veggies a lot but I did have some picky-ness with certain things and not being willing to try some new things (or even some short-order cooking requests). No more of that! My husband says he totally agrees with all the new things I have implemented since reading your book… “c’est normal!” he says! LOL THANK YOU! I also find it ironic that I am now reminding HIM that late night snacking is NOT healthy for him! LOL
    I have been recommending the book for all parents of picky eaters. This country’s beige plate syndrome is awful, hopefully this book will go a long way to help change that!

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  13. Lovely recipe. I read your book and started the French way of eating with my boys (13, 9 and 5) and I’ve seen changes in just a few weeks. Especially the youngest, he is trying everything now (even though he often tells me he hates it!). I think the reason the French and other nationalities who still eat traditional food, don’t eat all raw vegetables, is because many of them are goitrogenic. They will interfere with your thyroid function (if eaten in great quantities). It’s the wisdom of traditional diets:)

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  14. I am Russian. We often ate grated carrot salad (very similar to this recipe). In Russia we also don’t eat too many raw vegetables. I have been studying Ayurveda (Antient indian wellness system). According to the teachings of Ayurveda, cooked (not overcooked) vegetables are easier on digestion. Some people can stomach raw much easier than others (which Ayurveda also addresses). I noticed that many cuisines do eat vegetables cooked. Just some food for thought!

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  15. This is also great with beets, make sure to use grate attachment in food processor. Also in France I usually see it served with dressing of fresh lemon juice, olive oil and red wine vinegar, no mustard. Sometimes it is also served with shallots.

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  16. Pingback: Toddler-Approved Veggies: Grated Carrot Salad | Science of Mom

  17. I just made this salad as a starter for dinner and we all loved it. I found that if I let my kids help with preparations they are much more likely to taste something new. We also had mousse au chocolat (the recipe from your book) for dessert. Delicious!

    I didn’t even know you could eat raw broccoli. I’m from Germany and I don’t think it’s done here.

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  18. I love this blog just because it raises questions on food that can sometimes make me laugh! I can’t image any person that could clearly tell you why they refuse to eat raw broccoli, but the truth is they are missing out!

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  19. Inlaws say raw veggies are what you feed farm animals, and they do not taste good served this way. The prefer antipasti platter vs. veggie tray with dip.

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  20. Pingback: {Enchanted} Lovely Links, July 23, 2012

  21. Probably because raw vegetables are what you feed farm animals, my father in law refuses to eat any form of corn for the same reason. However, the French eat raw radish and tomato, especially for the apero.

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  22. Oh wow that is one salad we shall be making this week. As to the raw broccoli issue that is interesting. We love it raw in salads, as well as raw cauliflower in salads. Maybe its because they assume raw gives a person more ‘wind’?

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  23. Yum. I am looking forward to trying this. I had a carrot salad at a French restaurant in Las Vegas as a starter and it is was so delicious I have always wanted to make it at home but didnt know how. It sort of tastes pickled (maybe the lemon juice?) and they service it in a bowl along with butter and a baguette on the side. So good.

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  24. Perfect, Karen, I’ve been meaning to do a traditional French carottes rapees, this is my cue. Not sure about reason behind the raw vs. cooked vegetables, though we do a lot of raw tomato / cucumber / radishes as well as carotts… But it’s true that my mother would frown at the idea of a bite of raw broccoli :-)

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