April 4th is International Carrot Day.
Most people we know eat carrots relatively often, but hows about carrot salad?
Many of us grew up with carrot salad with raisins, celery and mayonnaise.
It was delicious, but it’s fallen out of fashion.
Here’s a way to revive the concept, with fun variations.
The idea here is a DIY carrot salad, where everyone at the table or buffet can customize a version.
You create the basic carrot-raisin salad, and provide toppings or mix-ins for customization.
Option #1: For a gourmet touch, buy different colors of carrots (photo #4). You can often buy them bundled: orange, purple, red and yellow.
Option #2: Instead of grating the carrots, use a spiralizer or peeler to make ribbons (photo #2). If you do so, cut the other vegetables in proportion (i.e., larger pieces).
Option #3: Some people add pineapple, but for this “mix in” approach, it adds too much sweetness.
Option #4: Instead of a mayonnaise-sour cream dressing, consider a Dijon vinaigrette or Moroccan dressing (recipe below).
For The Carrot Salad
Provide a base of greens and a topping of grilled or roasted protein:
1. MAKE the dressing. Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, sugar and lemon juice in a large bowl.
2. BLEND in the carrots and raisins. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving (you can do this a day in advance).
3. PREPARE the mix-ins (don’t cut the apple until just before serving).
Carrot raisin salad is a traditional dish in the Southern United States.
Grated carrots are mixed with raisins and a dressing made from mayonnaise, granulated sugar, salt and pepper.
We can’t find a date for the first published recipe, but a recipe that appears in the WPA School Lunch Cookbook shows that the recipe was well established by 1936, the book’s publication date.
At least from then, and going forward, carrot raisin salad has been on many school lunch menus, its sweetness appealing to children.
Other countries have long had their own versions of carrot salad.
Except for Morocco and Tunisia, all are made with grated carrots:
*Both raisins and sultanas are made from seedless grapes; red and green, respectively. In the U.S., sultanas are also referred to as golden raisins. Grapes darken as they dry, which is why raisins are darker in color than the grapes. Although once made from a different variety of grape, today in the U.S. sultanas are made from the Thompson grape.
Most raisins produced in the United States are made from seven different types of grapes: Thompson Seedless (which are also the most popular green grapes for fresh consumption), Flame Seedless, Muscat, Sultana, and Black Corinth. It takes about 4 1/2 pounds of fresh grapes to make 1 pound of raisins.
Golden Seedless raisins or sultanas are made from the Thompson Seedless grape, but are oven-dried to avoid the darkening effect of sunlight. They are also treated with sulfur dioxide to preserve their light color.
†Some recipes add a tablespoon of sugar, but this makes the carrot salad as sweet as dessert. Taste after a teaspoon is added and adjust according to your palate.
‡Sumac is a tart, acidic spice. In other recipes, you can substitute lemon zest, lemon pepper seasoning, lemon juice or vinegar. But since this dressing is made with lemon juice, simply skip the sumac.
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