Herbed Lemon Carrot Salad

Can a salad be a salad without lettuce?

Vertical image of a large wooden bowl with a grated carrot mixture, with text in the center and on the bottom of the image.

Thankfully, yes!

Don’t let this simple salad fool you. The lemon and herbs will surprise and delight. It’s a testament to tasty food that a handful of carefully chosen ingredients that require very little time to prepare can satisfy so perfectly.

Carrots do get a bad rap sometimes. But I like to chalk it up to lousy school lunch memories and intense overcooking episodes.

I remember the first time I crunched on a bowl of raw baby carrots with just a sprinkling of sea salt on top. It dawned on me that certain vegetables simply shine in their raw state.

Vertical top-down image of two wooden bowls with a grated orange vegetable mixture with chopped herbs on a rope place mat next to silverware.

And so began a journey of experimentation, choosing veggies that are perfect for eating raw, then selecting a host of spices, herbs, and oils to enhance nature’s remarkable bounty.

For this salad, a pairing of tarragon and parsley boost the carrot’s natural sweetness. The tarragon adds a hint of licorice, with the parsley imbuing just the right amount of bitterness into the dish.

We need to give this simple side some serious credit. It hits almost every taste point on your tongue. And to continue my ode to this orange beauty of the root vegetable world, it does a heck of job absorbing the flavors of all the yummy ingredients you pair it with.

You’ll find that the lemon juice gets incorporated easily, and just a little goes a long way.

Vertical image of a salad with grated orange vegetables and herbs in two wooden bowls, one with crumbled crackers on top, next to whole vegetables and fruits, and a blue towel.

But like with all raw dishes, your success lies in the quality of your produce. There’s nowhere to hide substandard ingredients here – no heavy sauces or prolonged cooking techniques. And the fewer the ingredients required, the better each one needs to be.

Make sure your vegetables are firm and hard to the touch. And look for any apparent signs of punctures or cracks.

Tarragon leaves should not be flimsy or wilted, as these are signs of age and deterioration. Both will affect the taste.

Parsley packed in bunches can easily disguise mushy or rotting leaves. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been surprised to find decaying, yellow leaves hidden among what I thought was a fresh bunch. Don’t be shy, dig in there.

Vertical top-down image of a grated orange vegetable mixture with chopped fresh parsley in a wooden bowl on a roped placemat on a wooden table.

As for lemons, the flavor workhorse of the kitchen, it’ll take some serious mistreatment to get a lemon to spoil. But they do. So feel the skin for an even texture, look for discoloration, and finally, take a sniff. If your nose likes it, so will your tongue.

This also means you’ll need to pay attention to the seasonings, too.

Upgrade to coarse Kosher salt, a choice that you’ll never regret. And if you bought that can of pre-ground black pepper during the last administration, dump it and treat yourself to a new one. Or better yet, invest in a quality pepper mill, and grind it fresh every time, for the best flavor.

Horizontal close-up image of a salad with grated orange vegetables and finely chopped parsley in a wooden bowl next to a blue towel on a wooden table.

Finally, let’s pause for a second and have a chat about extra virgin olive oil. This may come as a shock, but a lot of what’s sold in your typical market is substandard, and labels can be misleading. Don’t shortchange this ingredient. An excellent olive oil is a revelation to the palate that can elevate the plainest of dishes.

Now, go forth, get the best ingredients, and enjoy.

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Horizontal image of two wooden bowls filled high with a carrot slaw on a roped placemat next to a lemon.

Herbed Lemon Carrot Salad


  • Author: Katherine and Eddie D’Costa
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 8 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

Want to try a fresh and vibrant twist on traditional salad? This crunchy lemony carrot version explodes with sweet tarragon and parsley.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 4 large carrots, grated (about 4 cups) 
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 Club Crackers or other butter crackers, crumbled (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place grated carrots in a large bowl. Add lemon zest and juice, and set aside for 2 minutes.
  2. Add parsley, tarragon, salt, and black pepper. Fold to incorporate. Set aside for 1 minute.
  3. Fold in olive oil until completely incorporated.
  4. Divide into four bowls. Sprinkle a generous amount of crumbled crackers over each serving, if using. Serve immediately.

  • Category: Salad
  • Method: No-Cook
  • Cuisine: Side Dish

Keywords: carrot, tarragon, parsley, lemon, olive oil

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep and Measure Ingredients

Horizontal image of peeled carrots, whole herbs, a lemon, and various seasonings in spoons and in a glass bowl on a wooden surface.

Wash the veggies and herbs thoroughly, removing any dirt or grit. Using a vegetable peeler, gently peel away the outer skin. You can discard it, or save it for use in homemade vegetable broth. Cut away the stem ends and discard them.

Carefully grate the carrots with the largest holes on a box grater and place in a large bowl.

Horizontal image of grating a carrot in a white bowl with a box grater.

Alternatively, you can use your peeler to create long, thin strips, or use the shredding disk on your food processor.

Zest and juice the lemon, remove any seeds, and measure out what you need.

Gently chop the parsley and tarragon. Or, julienne the herbs for a prettier presentation.

Horizontal image of prepped vegetables, herbs, and various seasonings in glass bowls and metal teaspoons on a wooden table.

Prep the crackers, if you will be using them. You can crumble them into a bowl by hand, or place them in a plastic zip-top bag and crush the crackers lightly with a rolling pin.

Measure out the rest of your ingredients, so they will be ready to go when you need them.

Step 2 – Dress Salad

Horizontal image of grated orange vegetables and a heap of lemon zest in a white bowl.

Add the lemon juice and lemon zest to the bowl with the grated veggies, and let sit for 2 minutes. This will allow the lemon juice to saturate the vegetables.

Using a rubber spatula, fold gently to incorporate the ingredients.

Step 3 – Combine Remaining Ingredients, Toss, Garnish, and Serve

Horizontal image of a white bowl with shredded orange vegetables, lemon zest, and finely chopped green herbs.

Add the parsley, tarragon, Kosher salt, and ground black pepper. Fold gently, and let sit for 1 minute.

Fold in the olive oil and continue folding to incorporate it completely. The herbs should be distributed evenly throughout the mixture, and everything should be coated with the citrus and oil dressing.

Horizontal image of two wooden bowls full of shredded orange vegetables mixed with fresh herbs on a roped placemat next to a blue towel, whole vegetables, and silverware.

This salad will hold nicely for a few hours in the fridge. If left for longer, they will start to release water, so you will need to drain them before serving any leftovers.

You can sprinkle crushed butter crackers on top just before serving, for added visual contrast and crunch. Keebler Club Crackers are recommended, or Pepperidge Farm Golden Butter Crackers.

Can I Use Other Vegetables as a Base for a Simple Salad?

If you have other fresh vegetables in the refrigerator, this crunchy orange veggie aren’t your only option for creating a simple side dish like this one.

How about thinly sliced zucchini prepped on your mandoline, tossed with avocado oil and cilantro? Or grated yellow squash with chives?

Horizontal image of two wooden bowls filled high with a carrot slaw on a roped placemat next to a lemon.

The possible combinations are endless! Pick any vegetable that slices or grates easily, and experiment with new combinations of fresh herbs and spices you’ve been wanting to use from your spice rack. Discovering and making new dishes is the best part of cooking. Have fun!

Love root vegetables? Try these other carrot-centric dishes from Foodal next. And don’t forget to let us know how the recipe turned out for you!

Photos by Katherine and Eddie D’Costa, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on March 16, 2009. Last updated: March 18, 2020 at 17:10 pm.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Eddie & Katherine D'Costa

Eddie and Katherine D’Costa are a married professional chef and journalist duo from Atlanta, where they cook up a variety of international dishes, tested for the home cook. Katherine holds an MA in journalism from Northeastern University and Eddie’s professional experience spans 20 years working with Wolfgang Puck, Jean George Vongerichten, and Todd English.

Herbed Lemon Carrot Salad

13 thoughts on “Herbed Lemon Carrot Salad”

  1. 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. 🙂

    Reply
  2. 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. 🙂

    Reply
  3. 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…

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

    Reply
  5. 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!

    Reply
  6. 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!

    Reply
  7. 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!

    Reply

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