Bright, crunchy, fresh and flavourful, this unique grated Carrot Salad with Sesame Maple Vinaigrette transforms a few simple ingredients into a quick side dish or starter.
Looking for easy side salads to go with your barbecue? There are so many quick ‘n’ tasty salad options here on the blog. Like this delicious combination of mint and feta with sweet snap peas in Snap Pea Salad with Goat Feta. Or, go full on Greek with a traditional Greek Village Salad.
Carrot Salad with Sesame Maple Vinaigrette
Fifteen minutes is all it takes to grate your way to the perfect carrot salad. It’s crunchy, healthy, and bursting with the incredible flavour of a simple Sesame Maple Vinaigrette.
Forget the raisins, this fresh take on a crunchy carrot salad is nothing like the old school carrot salad recipes.
This is the perfect side dish for any meaty main; from chicken to beef and everything in between. Additionally, it is outstanding as part of a vegan feast too. This is a salad that will please everyone at the table.
This salad can be made all year long, as carrots are hardy root vegetables that store well while retaining their characteristic sweetness.
As always, I recommend quality ingredients to get the most flavourful dish. This is especially important when a dish has very few ingredients. Quality gives maximum bang for your buck!
- Cilantro or Parsley
- Sesame Oil
- Maple Syrup
- Olive Oil
- Soy Sauce
- Seasoned Rice Vinegar
- Sesame Seeds
There’s no doubt about it, carrots are the star of this dish. For a striking, mulitcoloured salad, choose carrots in different colours; red, orange, yellow, purple, and white. They all have the same flavour and texture, so orange carrots can work in this recipe too.
Pistachios add a nice nutty crunch to this salad which mirrors the sesame oil. Chopped peanuts would make an excellent substitution for the pistachios.
Cilantro adds a nice bright, herbal note to this dish. However if you don’t like cilantro, feel free to substitute fresh parsley in its place.
Toasted Sesame Oil is derived from toasted sesame seeds and has a distinct nutty flavour. It is a key ingredient in many cuisines both for cooking and as a flavour accent. Cold pressed sesame oil is made from raw sesame seeds and will not work in this recipe.
Use any neutral flavoured vegetable oil, including extra virgin olive oil, in this carrot salad recipe. This includes avocado oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, and even peanut oil as the flavour will match well.
Have you ever given thought to the quality of soy sauce in your pantry? Cheap brands, such as China Lily, use caramel colour and are full of salt to enhance their poor flavour profile. Try to seek out naturally brewed soy sauce and you will have a delicious umami rich seasoning for every dish.
When choosing carrots, look for smooth skins with no blemishes or bruises. They should be firm and inflexible, not rubbery. Give them a sniff. If they smell bitter or old, do not use them in this recipe.
How to Shred Carrots for this Recipe
Simply put, use what you got…honey! A low tech box grater or a mandoline will work just fine for grating carrots, just watch your fingers. Or, if you have a food processor, attach the shredding blade and your carrots will be good to go in seconds!
Shredded carrots will keep in an airtight container filled with cold water for up to a week. That means, you could meal prep the heck out of this salad. Just don’t add the other ingredients until the day you will be eating the salad. Drain the carrots well before mixing in the dressing.
Putting it All Together
Shredded carrots…done. Now let’s move on to the dressing. There’s no need to break out a blender, just whisk all the ingredients (Sesame and Olive oil, maple syrup, soy sauce, and seasoned vinegar) together in a small bowl or shake them in a mason jar with a lid.
Place the shredded carrots in a large bowl, then add the pistachios, most of the cilantro, and mix in the dressing. Top with more fresh cilantro and sesame seeds. That’s it! You have a the most simple and delicious carrot salad
Variations and Subsitutions
If you are like me, you love to play around with flavour and ingredients. Any vegetable that you can shred (broccoli stems, daikon, radish, beets, celeriac, jicama, or turnips.) would be great in this salad. Even red or green cabbage works!
As for the dressing, that’s open to interpretation too. Use your palate to determine what kind of flavours work for you. Adding dijon mustard helps to emulsify the vinaigrette, while honey makes a great substitute for maple syrup.
Mirin, black vinegar, or shao xing wine would add interesting hits of acidity to this salad and don’t forget you can always bring the heat with crushed chili pepper, Sambal Olek, or other spicy sauce.
Storage and Leftovers
This salad is best eaten as soon as it is mixed together. However, sometimes leftovers cannot be avoided. Store the leftover in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a day.
If you forget about it…and find it a few days later, no problem! This leftover carrot salad would be a great addition to any stir fry or fried rice dish.
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