carrot slaw

It’s not like I have something against healthy food. Seriously. In fact, there are times—like at the end of last week, in which I’d shared an entire dozen doughnuts with a friend, ordered things like toasted (and breaded) ravioli and huge slices of pizza, eaten meat in my lunches and dinners, gotten takeout more often than I’d brought brown-bagged meals (and had the accompanying bloating and heaviness to prove it)—where something fresh and healthy is all I do want. I know it may not seem like it around here, where I’ve posted dozens of cookie recipes and, lately, an onslaught of cakes, but I swear it’s true.

It’s just—I’m going to be honest—I don’t like eating things that don’t taste good. Is that so terrible? And, at least up until this point in my life, the things that taste good are, usually, not exactly healthy. The way I see it, if I’m already frustrated about, say, the fact that an apartment I went to see was in a creepy, creepy building with hotel hallways, I don’t want to add to that misery with bad food, do I? It wouldn’t be right.

So my solution for years, in terms of eating reasonably well while not killing myself in the process, has been portion control. I try very hard to eat because I’m hungry, not because I’m bored or lonely or something else. I eat whatever I want, but I don’t eat a lot of it, at least not regularly. (And when I do eat too much, my stomach is there to punish me, and, believe me, it does.)

But I’ve made a recent discovery that sort of thwarts my working system or, really, trumps it. This probably won’t be a secret to you, but I have been shocked. Here it is: Healthy things can taste good. Like, really, really good. Who knew?

carrot slaw in pyrex

The idea for this carrot salad/slaw came from Mon Ami Gabi, a French restaurant that’s part of the Lettuce Entertain You chains. I had dinner there a few weeks ago, where the waitress brought out a long baguette to our table, hot and crusty, wrapped in a paper sleeve. With it, she placed a small dish of carrot salad, heaped high and decorated with herbs and drizzled with oils. I would later have a steak and frites, with a amaretto souffle for dessert, and it would all be lovely, but what I’d keep thinking about, what I’d decide I need to make for myself later, would be the carrots.

The carrots! I don’t know about you, but I don’t eat a lot of carrots. Beyond the obligatory trays at parties, with raw vegetables surrounding dip, and, of course, the sliced carrots that add wonderful sweetness to a slow-cooked pot roast, I just don’t think about them. I might have brought a bag of baby carrots to work a while ago, eating them at my desk in an effort to stave off hunger, but I certainly didn’t enjoy it.

Now this salad? It’s a whole different story. It takes all the good of carrots—their faint bitterness and woodsy, earthy taste—and combines it with olive oil, lemon and herbs to create a sort of slaw so good, I’ll eat it by itself or on crackers or sandwiched between chunks of bread.

As a bonus, it’s loaded with nutritional value, from the vitamin A that my grandma used to say was good for your eyes to the fact that it’s long been believed to help digestive issues. This is a dish you will feel good about eating, before, when you chop the carrots and toss them with olive oil; during, when you pile their sweet, juicy mess onto a cracker; and after, when you feel refreshed, not overstuffed, from enjoying yourself.

In fact, you could say, this carrot salad is enough to make healthy eaters out of all of us.

Good News! This tasty carrot slaw, which I can’t stop reaching for, is just the beginning of a week filled with healthy, delicious recipes. Stay tuned!

Carrot Salad/Slaw
Adapted from Joël Robuchon’s The Complete Robuchon, as seen in The New York Times

1 pound medium carrots, peeled
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (or tarragon or a combination)
Salt to taste
Buttery crackers, small biscuits or hot, crusty baguettes, for serving.

Grate carrots into matchstick pieces using a food processor, a mandolin or a sharp knife. Transfer to a bowl. Whisk lemon juice and oils together, pour over carrots, and toss. Add parsley and toss. Add salt to taste. Serve with crackers, biscuits or bread.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 24 Comments

  1. Rachel

    loooks like chic -fil- a salad sans raisins :)

    love the springy summmmery colors!!

  2. Jacqui

    healthy recipes, ooh lala. i’ve been so bad about eating out and stuffing myself with unhealthy foods lately, also. well, ok, i’m always bad with it. i’ve been blaming it on the weather, along with everything else, but now that it’s getting warmer around here (yay!), healthy recipes are a must.

    and i’ve discovered that most veggies always taste better with lemon. :)

  3. My First Kitchen

    Never woulda thunk it. Carrot slaw? I always imagine carrots tossed with way too much mayo and nasty raisins. This, however, could work. I’m intrigued.

  4. TJ

    This looks tasty.

  5. Lan

    i’ve an aversion to carrots. i’ll eat it, if i must… but when i was in 6th grade, my mother had it in her head to force carrot juice down my throat everyday after school… to improve my eyesight. i’m surprised i didn’t turn bulimic.

    but i think healthy food, just like junk food, in moderation is great. :)

  6. Shannalee

    Rae – I LOVE Chick-Fil-A and was just telling someone about those waffle fries and how the meat is all white and how the place is closed on Sundays. Why won’t one come to Chicago?

    Jacqui – I know! This warm weather (well, beyond the fact that it’s killing my allergies) is pure bliss and makes me think of happier days with no coats (like today, actually) and lighter foods like carrot salad. PS: You are one of my biggest inspirations in terms of veggie love.

    MyFirstKitchen – Yuck, that does sound gross. I’m a hard sell on anything with mayo, though, and I like raisins most when they’re hidden in a cinnamon bread.

    TJ – It really is.

    Lan – OK, I have to ask, on behalf of those of us who did NOT eat enough raisins as kids: how are your eyes? Do you wear contacts? Because, all I’m saying is, if a person could eat ALL those carrots and have it not improve their eyesight (mine is horrible, so I’ve always thought Grandma was right), someone should do something about it on behalf of all those poor children. Carrots aren’t a natural love like cookies, that’s for sure. Then again, maybe if kids tried this slaw…

  7. Lan

    oh how my eyes suck. i started wearing glasses mid 5th grade, graduated to contacts in 11th grade and i still sport the contacts. once i get my metal grill out, i will set up my FSA to pay for lasik. this is why i hold a grudge against carrots. it did me no good.

  8. Kasey

    I love carrot slaw–absolutely love it. I’ve been making a version from Alice Waters’ cookbook for a while now. This is a recipe I’ve got to try. There’s just something about carrots…

  9. Shannalee

    Lan – First of all, I can’t believe I wrote raisins in my response to you above. (WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?) Thank you for being all gracious in response and knowing what I meant. Second – You still have bad eyesight!? OH MY WORD. What a huge, huge, let-down. I totally get your frustration now. Totally.

    Kasey – Despite what I just said to Lan, I really love carrots in a slaw like this. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Alice Waters – I should try her recipe!

  10. kelly

    this is intriguing! i need more healthy things in my life so i think this recipe might be in my future. thanks for sharing!

  11. Jacqui

    that makes me happy. :)

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  14. Amanda

    Oh, I’ve been wanting to find a carrot salad recipe, this looks perfect! I actually do like carrots raw, but they get “boring”, and my husband doesn’t tend to grab raw veggies – they have to be prepared in some way, so this will fit the bill!



  16. Shannalee

    Amanda, I feel like this celebrates the sweetness and crunchiness of carrots without being boring, and I swear I couldn’t stop eating it! Hope it’s a hit with your family!

    Melissa, Right? So glad someone else agrees. Hope you love this!

  17. Amanda

    I have a new title for this recipe: “cure for the common carrot stick”! Just made the recipe for lunch, and it is delicious. The lemon, parsley and salt/pepper let the carrot’s sweetness shine beautifully. I made two humble additions – grated the lemon I used for the juice, and added the zest to the mix and added pepper along with the salt. Thank you Shanna!

  18. Shannalee

    I know, right? I really need to make this again! So glad you liked it!

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  20. Christine

    I was at Mon Ami Gabi on April 11 and I asked the waiter what was in the to-die-for carrot “slaw”.

    Champagne vinegar! was the star of the flavor that brought out the sweetness of the carrots.

  21. Shannalee

    Christine, aha! have you tried making it yet? I wonder if it really works!

  22. Deborah in NC

    Wasn’t it the best carrot salad?!! I asked our wait person how it was made – not measurements, but she did say it was carrots, cayenne pepper, champagne vinegar, honey and parsley. I was just online looking for measurements, when I came upon your site.

  23. Shannalee

    Deborah, It was! In fact, reading your comment today made me want it all over again!

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