This French Carrot Salad Is the Simple Side That Goes With Everything

This carrot salad is everywhere in France. You can buy it by the kilo or packaged in boucheries and supermarkets. It’s on the menu in both classic bistros and the places you’ve touched a portkey to Los Angeles. The first time I got it from a train station kiosk was during a particularly long transfer at Gare d’Avignon to meet friends in Provence. I combined it with a croissant because, balance. It was okay (the croissant was better), but that’s part of the simple beauty of the extremely French carrot salad, or “carottes râpées” in French: it’s best – and cheapest – to be made at home.

“Carottes râpées” means much less fancy-sounding “grated carrots”, and that is what it should mostly be: grated raw Carrots, lightly dressed with oil and lemon, some cumin and little else. If you want to ripple, keep it simple: use a jumble of colored carrots, replace lemon juice with lime, abandon the cumin, or add a dash of ground coriander.

Make it easy: Whisk in a medium-sized bowl 3 TBSP. Extra virgin olive oil, 3 TBSP. fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon. light honey, and ½ tsp. ground cumin. Seasoning with Salt-. Add 1 pound of carrots, rubbed on the large holes of a box grater or in one Food processor, fitted with a grid attachment, and throw to coat, customize the dressing to taste. Stir in ½ cup of coarsely chopped parsley or coriander and leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours before serving.

I made this salad many times while writing my cookbook At the tableand I’m especially fond of its ability to mate with pretty much everything else on the table. It’s on the cover of the book next to Coq au Vermouth (page 111), Salade Verte with Cornichon Vinaigrette (page 210) and, perhaps predictably, very good butter, bread and wine. In fact, I ate it as a meal alone with very good butter, bread, and wine. I love it along with the cider pork (page 141). I eat a fork full of it as light, palatal breaks while I eat the rich, cheese-heavy Croque Madame (page 169) or the equally rich Raclette or Cheese Dinner with Carbs (page 171). I ate leftover food for lunch and stood by the refrigerator as a snack. I put them in Tupperware and brought them to picnic in the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont or for an aperitif on the Canal Saint-Martin.

And now that I know better, I pack it for every train ride to Provence.

À table: French-style recipes for cooking and eating

Rebekah Peppler is a Los Angeles and Paris based writer and food stylist.

Adapted from ‘À Table’ by Rebekah Peppler with permission from Chronicle Books, 2021

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