During the many years I lived in France, carrot salad was something of a staple. I never actually made it myself, but would pick up a barquette de carottes rapées at the charcuterie on my local market street along with some cold cuts to serve as a weekend lunch that was more about shopping than cooking. The carrot salad was something I liked and enjoyed but never got terribly excited about.
Then one day my friend L brought a homemade carrot salad to a BBQ at a mutual friend’s house. Now, L is an amazing, professionally-trained cook, so I was quite surprised she would bring along something so ordinary. Until I tasted her salad, which was fresh and flavorful and incredibly moreish, with just the slightest kick of spice. Naturally I hounded her for the recipe.
I now make carrot salad very regularly, and not just because the nearest French charcuterie is a Eurostar ride away. It’s a lovely accompaniment to grilled fish or lamb chops, and the recipe can easily be scaled up to feed a crowd. Or to ensure leftovers.
Carrot salad (adapted from Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters)
750 g carrots
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
a small pinch of cayenne pepper (more if you like it hot)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons of your best olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
Serves about four people.
Peel and grate the carrots – I use the grater disk of my food processor for this but you could also use a box grater or mandolin. If the carrots appear watery I like to drain them in a colander for about 15 minutes, but feel free to skip this step.
Crush the garlic into a bowl and add the salt. Mash together, then add the cayenne pepper, vinegar and olive oil and whisk well.
Toss the dressing with the grated carrots and taste. If it is at all bland or dry, add a pinch of salt or a drizzle of olive oil. Add the chopped coriander leaves and toss just before serving.