There are lots of things that I love about French food. Obviously, there's the cheese and the croissants and the butter and the bread. But then there are also those classically French dishes that have stood the test of time; Boeuf Bourguignon (a slow-cooked beef and red wine stew); Bouillabaisse (a fancy, tomatoey fish soup); the classic seaside dish of Moules Frites (mussels and chips); Pissaldière (a simple pizza topped with caramelised onions, anchovies and olives) and of course crêpes, topped and filled with whatever sweet or savoury filling takes your fancy - Nutella for me, please.
I associate French cooking with detailed recipes including lots of preparation and complex techniques, but this week I was reminded of a popular French side dish which is the definition of simple. This 'Everywhere' French Carrot Salad is the salad that you really can pick up everywhere in France. It's impossible to buy decent packaged sandwiches in most French supermarkets or a takeaway coffee to enjoy while you are wandering around a market, but even the most modest neighbourhood food shop is likely to stock this salad. It's what I include in a supermarket shop when we're holidaying in France to liven up a picnic or to add an interesting element to an otherwise simple dinner and it's as versatile as it's delicious.
As I'm approximately 4,344 miles from France at the moment (and maybe you are far away too) I wanted to recreate this salad at home and came across this article in Bon Appetit with a few pointers.
So what exactly is the 'Everywhere' French Carrot Salad?
It's essentially grated carrot in a light oil and lemon dressing and tossed with a little parsley or coriander. I suppose it's akin to a 'fresher' version of coleslaw, in that it has a bit of zing from the citrus and none of the sweet creaminess from the mayo dressing. Don't be fooled by its simplicity.
And what dishes does it work well with?
Its acidity makes it work particularly well with dishes that are quite rich - think roasted pork, dauphinoise potatoes, a cheeseboard. Get the idea? I made a bowl of this at the start of the week and I used it on fancy fish finger sandwiches (balanced the sweetness of the fish fingers perfectly); as a side dish with a vegetarian lasagne and some Easy Oven Chips and now there's a small bowl left in the fridge which I'll have for lunch with some cheese on toast*.
*It was delicious, by the way.
Why is it a winner of a side dish?
- It looks achingly pretty with that incredible shot of orange and is even more gorgeous once the chopped herbs are forked through.
- It keeps for several days in the fridge and does improve as the carrot absorbs the dressing.
- It's quick and easy.
- It's a refreshing change from the ubiquitous coleslaw (although I am a fan of the traditional too).
- It's incredibly cost-effective and a colourful way to enjoy an extra portion of vegetables.
So if getting to France is not on the cards for you right now, you could give this a shot at home. Maybe add a beret and a baguette under your arm to complete the picture.Print