About two years ago, when I was in the midst of recipe-testing for my cookbook, I was looking for ideas for cold appetizers for lunch or dinner. I was doing a lot of stir-frying at the time and just wanted something quick with Asian flavors that I could just toss together. The result was this Asian-stye peanut butter carrot salad, inspired by a classic French dish.
This appetizer was inspired by the carottes râpées I had bookmarked from David Lebovitz a while back. Unlike American salads, this one is not ashamed to feature its one key ingredient without any other vegetables to share in the spotlight. Here, the carrot shreds are bigger, and instead of parsley, olive oil, and lemon, I modified the sauce for my cold sesame noodles to have the carrots coated with a slightly tangy peanut butter sauce.
But the spirit of the salad is still the same. You can eat them as a proper dinner appetizer or have them as a late night snack. You can use a fork when others are watching, or, when alone, just swipe them out of the bowl with your hands.
“I do know sometimes there’s nothing more satisfying than a simple pile of grated raw carrots, lightly dressed,” says David. I couldn’t agree more.
Peanut Butter Carrot Salad
Serves 4 as an appetizer
- 5 or 6 large carrots
- 3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon chili sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 scallion, chopped
- Peel and julienne the carrots (you can do this with a knife or a julienne peeler, one of my favorite kitchen tools).
- In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter and water until smooth. Stir in the cider vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, chili sauce, and sesame oil. (You can whisk everything at once, but separating the steps helps prevent the liquid from splashing too much.)
- Toss the carrots with the peanut butter mixture until the carrots are evenly coated (ideally, they should be lightly dressed, not swimming in peanut butter sauce). Top with scallions and serve.
Recipe first posted May 10, 2011. Revised Jan. 6, 2013.