For this carrot ribbon salad, shaved carrot is tossed with a toasted cumin, honey, oil, and cider vinegar dressing and garnished with cilantro. It’s a healthy side dish that’s easy to toss together, making it perfect for picnics, potlucks, and weekend cookouts.
Adapted from Joe Woodhouse | Your Daily Veg | Kyle Books, 2022
Really quick to put together, this easy carrot ribbon salad will happily sit alongside many other dishes. It is delicious as part of a Vietnamese noodle salad, alongside falafels or in pitas and wraps to add crunch. I like to make a double batch and put it down on the table at barbecues for guests to help themselves. It goes well with pretty much anything.–Joe Woodhouse
Carrot Salad FAQs
How do you make carrot ribbons?
You can use a mandoline, vegetable peeler, or knife to create carrot ribbons. Our testers found that a vegetable peeler was the easiest to use. Start at the fat end of the carrot and apply firm pressure while pushing the peeler down the length of the carrot. The more pressure you apply, the thicker your ribbons will be. Once you get to the core of the carrot, flip it over and repeat.
Why does cilantro taste like soap to some people?
If you’re one of the many whose tastebuds won’t allow you to love cilantro as much as the rest of us do, first of all – we’re so sorry. Some folks just don’t like it due to personal preference, but to others this tasty herb has a soapy flavor. The reason for that? Genetics. A small percent of the population possesses a variation in a group of olfactory-receptor genes which makes the soapy-flavored aldehydes in cilantro leaves more prominent.
What can I substitute for cilantro?
If you don’t care for cilantro, or have the genetic olfactory-receptor gene variation, you can still enjoy all of the foods that the rest of us do. Simply substitute parsley. Yes, the final result will be a bit different, but it’ll be something that everyone will enjoy.
What should I serve with carrot ribbon salad?
Our first thought was grilled or roast chicken, a rack of lamb, or lamb burgers – but a glance through the tester notes below the recipe shows that the salad is delicious with just about anything it’s served beside.
Carrot Ribbon Salad
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 14 ounces (about 4 large) carrots finely sliced with a vegetable peeler, mandolin, or knife
- 3/4 ounce (about 1/2 cup) fresh cilantro leaves picked and stalks finely chopped
- Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
- In a small skillet over medium-low heat, dry-toast the cumin seeds until aromatic, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Transfer to a mortar and pestle and give them a couple of bashes to crack the seeds. Leave some chunks as they provide a good texture to the final salad.
- Combine the cracked seeds, honey, oil and vinegar in a bowl with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Toss the carrots with the dressing and allow to sit for 15 minutes or so, giving them a turn when you remember. (The salad can sit for longer if you want; the carrots will start to slacken and give up their juices to add to the dressing.)
- When ready to serve, mix in the cilantro leaves and stalks. Arrange in a serving bowl or on a platter and serve.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This cumin-spiced carrot ribbon salad has few ingredients but packs a flavourful punch! The toasted cumin seeds added a nice crunch to the thinly ribboned carrots. It came together quite easily and I can see this salad being a hit at potlucks as it would go with almost any other dish. We tend to stick to green salads so this was a wonderful way to change things up! I served it alongside roasted baby potatoes and bone-in air fryer pork chops.
Vibrant to the eyes and palate, these cumin-forward carrot ribbons were a blast of a salad. From very young to more mature, my guests were all wowed.
After 15 minutes in the dressing, the carrot ribbons softened but maintained their bite. After 1 hour, these were like al dente chewy noodles that twirled easily on the fork. The following day, the forgotten last mini portion had the texture of well cooked noodles that was still surprisingly pleasant. I chose to chop these up further and add to my vegetarian chili. Success!
I used multi-coloured carrots, just for more fun. I sliced the carrots using a vegetable peeler through the length of the carrot using only opposing sides. This made the ribbons wider and omitted the tougher cores as well as protecting my fingers from holding a thin carrot. The leftover carrot cores and broken pieces are great for broths, veggie chili, or soups so that nothing gets wasted.
My boyfriend has lovingly renamed this carrot ribbon salad “delicious wet carrots”. I mean, he’s not wrong — this dish was super wet and extremely tasty.
While my final presentation didn’t turn out as pretty as the one in the picture, it more than delivered in the taste department. While the ingredient list was short and consisted mainly of pantry staples, the way this carrot salad recipe was approached was with such innovation that it makes me look at my kitchen cabinet with new eyes.
I’m curious how this would turn out if you made minor substitutions to the initial ingredients — how would this taste if you replaced the cider vinegar with a fruitier strawberry or pineapple vinegar? How much better would it taste if the regular honey was subbed for a spicy one? I guess this gives me a good excuse to make this several more times!
This quick carrot salad with its slightly sweet dressing will work with so many dishes, and it’s especially useful because it employs a vegetable that’s often in the crisper toward the end of the shopping cycle.
As a side, this makes about 12 servings, and keeps for at least three days. Because even thinly sliced carrots are a chew, larger portions aren’t desirable, but next time I will try grating the carrots instead. The cumin seeds give a nice texture to the carrots the first night, and while the cracked seeds eventually soften a little, they aren’t shy in flavor in subsequent meals. I served this with a red curry squash soup one night, and a cauliflower cheese tart and steamed asparagus on another.
If someone told me I’d be dreaming about a raw carrot salad days after I made it, I’d probably scrunch up my nose like a rabbit and deny, deny, deny. This salad, however, has me excited and eager to make it again, … and it’s definitely going into my highlight reel of easy, beautiful, healthy, good-to-share Leite’s Culinaria recipes. (Even more surprising is that my husband, who is definitely NOT a raw veggie salad fan, ate everything on his plate and then continued to nibble more out of the serving bowl.)
The robust flavor of the cumin seeds (don’t skip the toasting!) is expertly balanced by the honey to give the carrots a warm spice that is proportioned just right. The cilantro stems and leaves provide a perfect fresh-tasting finishing touch, and if you’re feeling fancy, a sprinkle of toasted pistachios is a magical, colorful addition.
So simple to source and prepare, easy on the food budget, and pulled together in less than 15 minutes with plenty of wiggle room to sit until serving.
Both the overall appearance of this easy carrot salad and its amazing flavors won us over immediately! The vibrant orange of the carrot ribbons tossed with the bright green cilantro leaves and stems was just lovely on the plate; we served this alongside Sriracha-glazed salmon fillets and a cashew rice. I can see it being a lovely dish for a casual cookout or even an elegant side for Easter dinner. The real star of the show was the toasted, lightly crushed cumin seeds, however. It added a bit of crunch and a ton of flavor. Easy to pull together, but impressive overall, this cumin-spiced carrot salad will be made again…and soon.
As for the recipe itself, I used a vegetable peeler to make the carrot ribbons. (It does leave some carrot behind when you make carrot ribbons, but they were saved for my next batch of homemade stock.) In Step 1, I kept a careful eye on my cumin seeds toasting in the medium-low pan, but they were aromatic after 3 minutes. I let my salad sit for 20 minutes in Step 3, just so they flavors all came together and the dressing settled into the carrot ribbons a bit.
This was a truly delicious salad. All the elements balance so nicely and every bite has a mixture of all the flavors. The hardest part of this recipe is peeling the carrots and I promise that is effort well spent. This is the no-cook salad I want to be eating every day of the week.
This carrot ribbon salad was so tasty, a breeze to make, and absolutely versatile in its use. As far as prepping the carrots, my mandolin produced a thicker sliced carrot than I wanted. Therefore, I used a vegetable peeler and applied some pressure. This produced a thinner, more malleable ribbon.
While the recipe calls for a mortar and pestle to crack the cumin seeds, I simply threw them in a small baggie and gently pounded with the flat side of meat tenderizer (a rolling pin would also work.) Aim for some chunky pieces as recommended as they added a nice crunch to the finished salad. The fruits of your labor will definitely be rewarded when you first bite those crunchy carrot ribbons enveloped in that simple, tangy, slightly sweet dressing. I let the salad sit for about 15 mins. before serving the first day. The leftovers sat overnight in the fridge. The flavors were even better the next day though the carrots did slacken a bit. Who cares!
I served the carrots nestled in sheet pan steak fajitas and falafel pita sandwiches. Outstanding! I will experiment next time by grating the carrots on a large hole box grater to produce smaller bits for sandwiches/wraps. Lots of carrots with every bite! Oh, and doubling the recipe too! Just can’t get enough of this fun little salad!
A farmer at my winter farmers market sells over-wintered carrots and honey, and another vendor makes tahini and other related items, including terrific falafel and homemade pita, plus hummus and baba ghanouj, so we added this quick and easy carrot salad to a buffet-like post-market meal. We liked the salad best after it sat for just 15 minutes or so when the carrots had not yet slackened. Though there was nothing terribly wrong with it after it sat longer, since it is so quick to put together, the suggestion from here would be to make just what you plan to eat and make a fresh batch when desired, even if it was for the next meal.
In addition to the suggestions noted, the cumin and cilantro would work nicely with Mexican food, and would add color to a meal with nachos, quesadillas, tacos, tamales, burritos, enchiladas, or alongside tortilla soup. It would also be festive if made with rainbow carrots, rather than all orange carrots.
Originally published May 30, 2022
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
This easy carrot ribbon salad will get a workout this summer. I loved how quickly it came together without a mayonnaise dressing and with minimal ingredients. Toasting the cumin seeds really does add to the taste and texture of the salad. This will be a great addition to BBQs as it tastes as good cold or at room temperature. It would also be a pretty tasty addition to a fish taco! The dressing is not overpowering in any way, not too sweet or vinegary.