Grated Carrots, Three Ways

We seem to have skipped spring altogether to jump directly into the thick of summer. And with the near-canicule* temperatures we’ve been experiencing, our menus have been all about cold foods and crudités.

I’ve long been a fan of grated carrot salads — when I was a child, this was the only way I would eat carrots at all — and I’ve recently become interested in the different ways one can grate the carrots for it.

I seldom use the grating attachment on my food processor; for small quantities, I find it too bothersome to take out, clean and put away.

For a while, I used the large holes of a box grater (such as this one), and was fairly pleased with the results, though the larger, tougher carrots were a bit of a workout, and any carrot that had become limp from too much time in the fridge was a pain to handle**.

Carrots grated with a box grater.

Carrots grated with a box grater.

Then one day, I tired of the box grater and moved on to the brute force approach of simply chopping raw carrots in my mini food processor. It’s noisy, but it takes about a minute, and you get a couscous-like texture — coarse or fine, as you prefer — that is quite lovely.

Carrots chopped in the food processor.

Carrots chopped in the food processor.

But lately, I’ve switched to what is now my preferred method: I use my mandoline slicer with the comb-like blade attachment. This produces super neat little flecks of carrot with a perfect square section, which is not only attractive, but also optimally crunchy.

Carrots cut with a mandoline slicer.

Carrots cut with a mandoline slicer.

The mandoline slicer I own is the Benriner model I bought in Kappabashi in Tokyo (but is widely available elsewhere). It is cheap, light, compact, and zingingly sharp; I love it. Naturally, you are supposed to use the hand guard at. all. times., but I confess I never do. I just make sure I stay super concentrated as I slice, and I leave the stem on my vegetables as I prep them, so I can use it as a little handle and keep my fingers away from the blade until the very end.

My go-to dressing for grated carrots is an unmeasured mix of olive oil (liberal amounts of it), lemon juice, strong mustard, Tabasco sauce, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. I mix, taste, and adjust. I usually throw in fresh herbs — cilantro and chervil work especially well — and a handful of raisins. I am also likely to add other grated vegetables besides carrots, such as radishes or zucchini.

And the key to a truly juicy carrot salad is to assemble it an hour or two before serving, so the salt can start drawing some of the moisture out of the carrots and into the dressing.

{See also: Grated Carrots and Beets and Grated Carrot Salad with Avocado.}

Grated salad

* Canicule is the French word for a heatwave. It is based on the alternate name of Sirius, the main star in the Grand Chien constellation (Great Dog or Canis Major in English), which rises and sets with the sun during the hottest days of summer. This also explains the English expression “the dog days” of summer.

** When vegetables spend too much time in the vegetable drawer, they eventually go limp and unappealing. If this happens to your carrots (or radishes, asparagus, cucumbers, cauliflower, celery stalks, etc.), soak them for a couple of hours in a bowl of cold water with ice cubes. This will revive their crunch.

  • John Alexander Bowen

    I recall doing something like this with the meat grinder attachment on a Kitchen-aid using carrots and a bit of Parmigiano-Reggiano…good result.

    • That’s right, I’d forgotten, I tried the meat grinder attachment once too. And adding some Parmesan sounds delicious, thanks for the idea!

  • Nice tips – a carrot salad would go well tonight. Thanks for the idea!

  • Carottes râpées are one of those things that I never had in the US and looked at suspiciously when I was continually served it in France during the summer. I love it. But even better than grated carrots, are grated celery root!

    • Oh, I love céleri rémoulade too! I have a recipe for it in my first book with a yogurt dressing rather than the typical mayo-based one. Very refreshing.

    • FoodChick

      Once in Nice I got lunch at a boulangerie, a sandwich and a container of salad, which had carrots rapinee and celeri remoulade side by side. It may have been a situation where the ends of the mixing bowls were put in one container but I thought it was cool to try two iconic salads in one lunch. It was delicious, BTW.

  • Dina

    I am dying to get a food processor precisely for the shredding and grating attachments! LOL I am not using a mandolin and I use the grater sparingly, cause it’s pretty much the only thing in the kitchen I perpetually hurt myself with (& I had to avert my eyes every time anyone on Top Chef France 2013 would start using the mandolin!) I, also, growing up, could eat carrots only either cooked or when raw, in a salad, but it was pushing it :( Nowadays, they’re a vehicle for hummus, guacamole, etc LOL But, I do like them as a salad, as you do, so I am itching for the food processor. And no, it’s not too much work to use it & rinse it when I know I have 1) salad done in 5 minutes, and 2) 10 unhurt fingers! Try the grated carrots with just olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper & basil! Yumm!
    I am now off to fish out that recipe for celery remoulade. Thank you for the yoghurt sauce, cause now I won’t feel guilty eating a whole tub of it because it has mayo! Weee! :)

    • I can understand your fear of the mandoline. I once ripped a finger open with it (on New Year’s Eve, no less!) but I remain undeterred. :)

    • Maria

      For the food processor that does mostly (actually, only) grating and slicing you could try Moulinex FreshExpress. My friend has it and quite happy. In Australia it is branded as Tefal and you can read reviews here.
      People seem to either love it or hate it. You’ll be the judge…

      • Huh! Interesting tool. It’s funny because Moulinex/Tefal is a French brand, and I don’t think this appliance is marketed here at all.

        • enrica

          I’ve seen it in Italy so it’s not just for the other hemisphere!

  • I love carrot salad. This summer, I have been eating it three ways, too:

    1) with a traditional lemon and olive oil dressing – I added a bit of honey to cut the sharpness when I overdid the lemon juice.

    2) With plain mayonnaise – surprisingly nice, and quick. You can add grated cheese to this for a sandwich filling.

    3) My favourite way: with a toasted sesame oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. And raisins, of course.

    • All sound lovely, thank you Annabel!

  • Mary

    I use my good old tripod Mouli grater with the #3 round disc. It makes “carottes râpées” just like in France. Love it. In the summer some fresh mint from my container garden is a welcome addition to the vinaigrette. Will look at your other recipes, Clotilde. Stay cool!

  • Or if you’re stressed out you could slice the carrots by hand! I find the meticulous chopping of vegetable to be highly cathartic. The dressing sounds simple & delicious, I make a similar one with miso paste in lieu of olive oil.

    • I’m happy to slice or dice by hand, but julienning is another story. :)

  • The carrot salad is a great idea, I love pretty much all kinds of vegetables but carrot is something that never seems appealing to me. Giving it a blast in the food processor looks as if the texture changes and looks like it will be more adaptable combined with other flavours! Yumm, will be trying this for lunch for sure!

  • Elaine

    I too had a bloody incident and all but sliced off the tip of my pinky with my mandoline but have since discovered the Rothco Kevlar glove and now can slice and dice with abandon. It has been life changing!

    • I was wondering about those. Do you feel like your hand loses agility at all?

      • Vanesss

        Hi when I grate my carrots by hand or food processor they are really wet. I have the right blades but makes no difference, have you any idea why this is? I have to lay them out on a large bit of heavy duty tissue and ring them out, and a lot** of juice comes out.

        • I’ve never had this happen, Vanesss. When I grate carrots myself, the flecks feel fairly dry on the contrary. My guess is that different carrots have different moisture contents depending on variety and age. But more important, is it a problem that they’re wet? Moistness is desirable for a carrot salad or a carrot cake, for instance.

  • Agree. Mmandoline slicer is the easiest. great post. Grated carrot is very underrated! Cheap too.

  • Hi,

    I loved this post about three ways of grating Carrots. I loved the way to cut them with a mandoline slicer. I am going to try using it.

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