The other day I ended up with a lot of carrots in my refrigerator. It was an accident. I’d gone to Borough Market, this amazing food hall and farmer’s market here in London, and was completely taken by some beautiful carrots with their bushy green tops. My kids love carrots (although, sadly, they’re totally thrown off by carrots here because they don’t exist in the baby-cut form that are so popular in the U.S.). I snapped up a bunch and brought them home, only to discover I already had two other bunches. Oops. Carrot overload! What to do?
That night, we ate this simple, fresh French carrot salad, which was inspired by a country dinner we had while visiting my cousin and his husband in Antibes, France back in October.
On our last evening there, we all gathered together at Chez Lulu, from the littlest Who in Whoville (my youngest nephew) to the oldest one (my dad). Chez Lulu is a no-frills neighborhood joint that doesn’t have an a la carte menu. Instead, the restaurant serves a set menu every evening, with a standard variety of “French grandmother dishes.” Our dinner started with family-style plates of Puy lentils, pork rillette, crusty baguette, a shredded acidic red cabbage slaw and this delightful French carrot salad made of shredded carrots, parsley and tossed in a vinegary dressing. The crunchy carrots woven with fresh, grassy parsley just brings life and light to the table. It’s filling, yet not too heavy.
The ingredients in this salad are pretty much pantry staples, so you can throw it together at a moment’s notice if you find your dinner offerings to be insufficient for whoever you’re cooking for. I use my food processor shredding plate to shred a bunch of peeled carrots, then fold in finely chopped parsley and a quick, lemony salad dressing. This salad is a really great contrast for heavier meat dishes, but also delicate enough that it would be a great accompaniment for fish.
I love this French carrot salad so much that it’s now in my regular rotation during the week. To me, the best souvenirs from our travels are the dishes I’m inspired to make after we get back. Chez Lulu doesn’t know it, but this French carrot salad provides me with a happy memory of our trip to France every time it hits our table.
That, and a nice crisp glass of Provencal rose. Because wine makes everyone happier, right?
simple french carrot salad
- 1 bunch carrots washed and peeled (about 1.5-2 pounds)
- 1/2 bunch parsley minced (about 1/2 cup, not packed)
- 1 shallot minced
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Grate the carrots into a large bowl (or use your food processor shredding plate to make this task go much quicker).
- In a small bowl, mix together the Dijon mustard and shallot. Zest the lemon and cut it in half, then squeeze in the juice from one half of the lemon. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking at the same time, to form a vinaigrette. Taste and season with salt and pepper. If you like your dressings a little sharper, squeeze in more lemon juice and whisk again.
- Add the parsley to the carrots and stir to combine. Drizzle the dressing in and season with more salt and pepper if necessary. Let sit for 5-10 minutes at room temperature, then serve.