Food writer and American ex-pat Parisian David Lebovitz insists that carottes râpées (grated carrot salad) ought to be counted among the top five or so national dishes of France. And yet a grated carrot salad would be the last thing, I think, that most Americans would think of when they think about French food.
Grated Carrot Salad is French Food?
French method. French technique. Haute cuisine. Nouvelle cuisine. French cuisine to the American imagination is the world’s quintessential fancy food. This is why, I imagine, we don’t think about grated carrot salad as French cuisine. Grated carrot salad is so simple and utilitarian. And yet in France it’s almost ubiquitous. You can buy it by the kilo at markets. It’s on menus everywhere. And yet it’s so simple and so delicious.
About French Grated Carrot Salad
It’s almost embarrassing to offer a recipe for something so simple. But there are reasons to share one. First, it’s a classic even if it is simple. Second, Americans eat carrot salad and it tends to be different. It’s a mayonnaise-dressed concoction, and it usually has raisins in it. I know that’s polarizing for some people for the simpler reason that adding raisins to things is polarizing.
I don’t know what the deal is with the humble raisin, but some people just freak out when you add them to things (especially cookies). When you ask them why they say often will say it’s because they make food chewier, like that’s somehow a bad thing. I like raisins, so I don’t get it.
Anyway, I like that mayonnaise-dressed American carrot salad with the raisins in it. In fact, I like it even more with some sort of chopped nuts for crunch. Pistachios are ideal in my mind. But I digress.
Grated Carrot Salad: The Classic
The classic French grated carrot salad is different. It’s simpler. It’s dressed with olive oil and lemon juice and bit of sugar for balance. And because it’s French it’s got a dab of Dijon mustard in it. Finally, it’s got some chopped parsley added in. Simple, simple, simple And so good. I could eat a bucket of the stuff.
And of course the moment I say I’m going classic, I modify it. I tend not to do refined sugar. I don’t even have any in my house. So I used a bit of maple syrup. Maple dijon. You know how that is. It’s awesome…
- 1 Pound carrots
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ Cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ¾ Cup of coarsely chopped fresh parsley
- Finely grate the carrots (a Moulinex grater is the old school French method, but a food processor with a grater attachment works as well).
- Mix together the maple syrup, dijob and lemon juice. Slowly add the olive oil while continuing to mix to create a dressing.
- Add the dressing to the grated carrots along with salt and pepper to taste and the grated parsley.