French Bistro-Style Shaved Carrot Salad with Lemon Dijon Dressing
While most fresh salads do not improve with time, this iconic French dish is the exception to that culinary rule. Carottes râpées, aka shaved carrot salad, can be found in almost every bistro, market or take-out shop in France, and it makes such a terrific light and healthy side that complements any main. Dressed in a lemon and Dijon mustard vinaigrette, this Gaelic dish has no mayo, making it a great take-along to picnics, church events, beach dates or parties.
While this is a very simple raw salad, there are a few tricks that ensure its success. First and foremost, the carrots must be shaved, which creates the requisite surface area necessary to absorb the lemon Dijon dressing, which gently flavors the carrots. Do not use a mandolin for this dish—a large-hole box grater or food processor using the grating attachment is needed to get the proper texture and flavor. The second rule is to allow the dressed carrot salad to sit at room temperature for at least 3 hours (but not longer) to allow the flavors to develop fully. To change it up, omit the walnuts, and replace the roasted walnut oil with extra virgin olive oil for a more traditional taste. A sprinkling of crumbled feta cheese or grated apples makes great add-ons as well! Just before serving, taste the salad and freshen up its flavor by adjusting the seasonings and top with a bit fresher lemon juice, which will dissipate with time.
French Bistro-Style Shaved Carrot Salad w/ Lemon Dijon Dressing
For the salad:
3 large organic carrots, peeled
1 medium shallot, skin removed and thinly sliced into rings
1 bunch organic flat-leaf parsley, stems removed and finely chopped
½ cup walnut pieces
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme (can substitute with 1 Tbs. dried French thyme)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest, about 1 large lemon
For the Lemon Dijon Dressing (makes ¾ cup):
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon acacia honey
Juice of 1 large juicy lemon, about 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons slow-roasted walnut oil (I recommend La Tourangelle brand)
Cut carrots horizontally to fit into in feed tube of food processor. Place carrots in feed tube and pulse using the thin shredding blade— should have about 3 cups. Place shredded carrots into a large bowl, and add thinly-sliced shallots, minced parsley, minced fresh or dried thyme and lemon zest. Gently toss with your fingers or two salad spoons till evenly combined. Cover and place the refrigerator till dressing is made.
For the dressing, add sea salt, black pepper, Dijon mustard, acacia honey, lemon juice, olive oil and walnut oil to a small bowl and whisk with a long-tonged fork to combine. Pour Lemon Dijon dressing over grated carrot salad and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings. Leave at room temperature for up to 3 hours to allow flavors to develop and marry.
Pairs well with sandwiches, fried or grilled chicken, and any type of grilled fish!