I am big on cooking local food from scratch–but sometimes you need a little help! You never know when a crisis (big or small) is going to hit!
That’s why I love a recipe that has options, like this Thai Carrot Slaw. With julienned carrots (“matchsticks”) in a slightly spicy, peanut-y sauce, you can prep one of two ways. Shred your own carrots to go local. Or use pre-cut for super-simple.
Why You’ll Love This!
Unique and Flavorful. With slightly exotic flavors from soy sauce, sesame oil and ginger, this is not your grandmothers carrot side dish!
Easy. Thai Carrot Salad is super easy to make if you buy pre-cut carrot matchsticks. But in case your CSA just delivered 2 big bags of carrots, I have easy instructions to cut your own.
Healthy. According to Medical News Today, carrots “are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant compounds. As part of a balanced diet, they can help support immune function, reduce the risk of some cancers and promote wound healing and digestive health.”
What You’ll Need
- Peanut butter. This adds Thai flavors to the dressing.
- Mild olive oil. This helps thin and emulsify the dressing.
- Sesame oil. This adds Thai flavors to the dressing.
- Lime juice. This adds Thai flavors and helps balance the dressing.
- Soy sauce. This adds Thai flavors to the dressing.
- Sugar. This acts more as a flavor enhancer than a sweetener.
- Ginger. This adds Thai flavors to the dressing.
- Garlic powder. This adds flavor
- Sriracha or other hot sauce (optional, to taste). This adds flavor and a touch of heat.
- Rice wine vinegar (or another vinegar). This helps thin and emulsify the dressing.
- Carrots. This is the main salad ingredient.
- Optional garnishes like black sesame seeds or cilantro.
- If you are going to cut your own carrots, it is helpful to have a julienne peeler or mandoline.
Step by Step Directions
If you aren’t using pre-cut, cup your carrots (see “How to Julienne Carrots” below). Then mix together your dressing ingredients.
Garnish as desired (optional). I like black sesame seeds!
How to Julienne Carrots
When I am looking for “easy,” I love using the pre-packaged carrot matchsticks.
But recently a light bulb went on with respect to making julienned vegetables. I discovered that it is (relatively) easy to turn carrots into nice little “matchsticks” with some regular kitchen tools.
Now the traditional way to julienne carrots is to cut them into thin slices, then cut matchsticks from these. While this will probably get you the most perfect cuts, there are a few tools that can make the process much quicker and easier.
The first way I ever did carrots was using a mandoline. While it can be a little bit scary, today there are even cut resistant gloves you can use. (You still need to be careful.)
My new favorite tool is a julienne peeler. It’s a little faster and a little less scary (okay I admit, it’s a little scary too). But it worked great to finish off the remains of last year’s carrots over the winter!
I think part of the beauty of this recipe is it’s simplicity. But since variety is the spice of life, feel free to experiment!
If you’re felling adventurous, consider adding extra vegetables to this. Julienned pepper slices would be fun, as well as chopped cilantro. Or add a handful of peanuts for a bit more crunch!
Feeding picky kids who don’t like unusual flavors? Go with the classic Carrot Raison Salad which has a simple mayonnaise based dressing.
Or for Asian flavor without carrots, I have an Asian-inspired broccoli slaw that is another tasty side.
How to Serve
Leftovers & Making Ahead
You can make this about a day in advance without much loss of quality. Store covered in the refrigerator. Or make up the dressing and the salad and keep separate until a couple hours before serving, then toss together. (If the peanut butter makes the dressing hard, just heat it up slightly in the microwave.)
Leftovers should keep 3-4 days, covered in the refrigerator. I love having a bonus vegetable with another meal!
Tips & FAQs
Did you know that carrots come in colors other than orange?
In fact, centuries ago carrots were usually purple and yellow rather than orange Then around the 16th century, orange carrots began to dominate. Now some sources say the color was a tribute to Netherlands founder, William of Orange, while others say that the orange variety just happened to grow well in the Dutch (a center of trade) soil. Either way, it’s a fun story!
But I’m glad that the multi-colored carrots are making a comeback (even in pre-cut carrot matchsticks). Yes, with red, orange, yellow and purple, the nutrition is magnified, since each color contributes its own set of micronutrients. Eat a rainbow!
If you’re a locavore like me, carrots are a vegetable that last well into the winter. That makes this a great salad all year round!
Thai Carrot Salad
- 2 Tablespoons peanut butter
- 2 Tablespoons mild olive oil
- 1 Tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 Tablespoons lime juice from 1 lime
- 1 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- dash of sriracha or other hot sauce optional, to taste
- 2 T rice wine vinegar or another vinegar
- 10 ounces carrots julienned (1 package or about 4 cups of homemade)
- Optional garnish such as black sesame seeds cilantro or parsley.
- In a medium-sized, microwave-safe bowl, soften the peanut butter in the microwave. Add the olive oil, whisking until you have a smooth mixture. Add the remaining dressiing ingredients and whisk together until well-blended.
- Mix in the julienned carrots and stir until evenly coated.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro, or black sesame seeds, or other garnish of your choice.
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