Raw Carrot & Parsnip Salad

I’m not on a raw food diet; but my oven would have me that way. It won’t fire up, for mysterious reasons, and I seem to miss the mechanic at my building every time he comes by. So what was going to be a simple side dish of roasted root vegetables — just carrots and parsnips — turned out even simpler. And arguably more delicious, or at least, more refreshing.

It’s the last hurrah for these winter root vegetables, while just-sprouted spring greens prepare to take over the scene. Strange to think that apples, which were harvested way back in the fall, are still just as plentiful at the farmers’ markets around here. I just ate a red Cortland one that was as crisp as a snow pear. The carrots are as juicy as ever, too; these ones stained my hands orange and bled onto the bottom of the bowl over time, just like any good carrot should. Parsnips look visibly hardy, kind of like a rugged sailor with its scraggly wisps and deeply punctured wrinkles. And they are, too, withstanding the months locked in cold storage staying crisp.

hardy carrots and parsnips

That’s what we’re celebrating in this salad — their journey to the end of the season. Yes, parsnips are perfectly good raw. That soft, spongey, sort of banana-y texture of roasted parsnips will mush in your mouth no more, and you’ll be hard-pressed to taste its sweetness when uncooked, too. But, dense with starch, the raw parsnip packs quite a snap when bitten into, which is a pleasant way to experience the vegetable anew. And if you’re not a fan of their flavor, this way they’ll be much more neutral, a blank slate to take on your dressing.

baby carrots are leftover from peeling

a pile of bi-colored ribbons

Rather than run the risk of slicing off your fingers with a mandoline, I recommend grabbing an average vegetable peeler, and running off ribbons of the root vegetables along their length. Scrap the first rotation of super-dry, wispy skin, and just peel the rest into a bowl. Turn the carrot or parsnip a little after each peel, holding onto its base. And try to go light on the peels, so they’re as thin and delicate as you can get them. (Assuming you prefer your shreds to be thin, which I do.) A fine pile of peels will sit before you after a few minutes, and you’ll also have perfectly manicured “baby” carrots and parsnips leftover from the process, which are great to roast or sautee (or just gobble up right away).

lemon juice, zest, and a bit of mustard for dressing

Any, any homemade salad dressing will do, but I’d shy away from Balsamic vinegar unless you want a dark orange-brown pile of stuff, and would recommend the vibrancy of fresh lemon and its zest for these delicately sweet, tender things. A dab of mustard and honey helps round out this dressing, and a speck of salt and white, but not black pepper (for aesthetics only). Looking forward to raw zucchini shredded and dressed this way come the summer.

Raw Carrot & Parsnip Salad
(makes about 4-6 servings)

2 large carrots
2 large parsnips
juice and zest of half a lemon (about 2 Tb juice)
1 teaspoon mustard (I used SchoolHouse Kitchen’s signature sweet-hot Dijon, but any style will do)
1 teaspoon honey
about 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
pinch of salt and white pepper
fresh parsley, chopped

Peel the skin from the carrots and parsnips. Still using a regular vegetable peeler, peel off ribbons of each one, slowly turning them at their bases as you go along. Continue peeling until you cannot make very long shreds, and reserve the cores for another use.

In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, zest, mustard and honey. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you whisk until mixture is emulsified. Taste, and add a pinch or two of salt and white pepper to taste. Gently toss the shredded vegetables with the dressing, and finish by sprinkling in the parsley at the last toss.

Cost Calculator
(for 4-6 servings)

2 carrots (at $1.50/lb): $0.60
2 parsnips (at $1.50/lb): $0.60
half a lemon: $0.17
1 tsp each honey and mustard: $0.25
4 Tb olive oil: $0.30
fresh parsley (from windowsill plant): $0.10

Total: $2.02

Health Factor

Two brownie points: This one really isn’t going to break your budget (see above), or your diet. That said, it is just a side, so you can’t live off of only this. As such, you’ll receive plenty of beta-carotene from those oh-so-orange carrots, Vitamin C, and the parsnips have some of that as well as potassium, fiber and folate (never judge a white vegetable for its lack of color alone).

Green Factor

Seven maple leaves: The majority of the act’s local, pesticide-free veggies from the Greenmarket, and we’ll give ourselves a pat on the back for making use of the last of the winter harvest. Some of this produce hasn’t made it so well into the last stretch (yesterday a farm was giving away heads of not-the-freshest garlic for 6 per dollar). The bad’s more predictable: lemon, and olive oil. The culprits of non-local eating, de rigeur.

28 Responses

  1. Sarah

    This does look refreshing. I was just trying to think of a side to bring to a bbq on Monday and this may just have to be it.

  2. kim

    This is a very refreshing salad. Perfect for picnic. I think a sprinkle of sesame seeds, some beans, and perhaps some other diced greenery could turn this into a substantial meal. It also looks like a low-carb mock-pasta dish. 🙂

  3. kim

    What a refreshing salad! This could turn into a substantial meal with some beans, avocado and I’m seeing some sprinkled sesame seeds on top too! 🙂

  4. steff (steffsays)

    i love parsnips, but i’ve never tried them raw before. but now i’m intrigued and might just have to give it a whirl!

  5. Maria Taraba

    I am just about to finish reading your book, so I came to check your blog. What a great idea for peeling the vegetables this way!!!! Thank you for that… I am trying it tomorow. Just drove by DD in South Orange today and remembered your story about it…

  6. […] Not Eating Out in New York » Raw Carrot & Parsnip Salad […]

  7. Michael

    I was really excited to see this recipe because the stove in my apartment has been out-of-commission for the last five weeks — The gas was shut off in the building while they try to fix a problem.

    I decided to try to be creative and make the best of the situation. Every recipe I’ve made lately has been no-cook (even coffee — I’ve been making cold brewed!).

    Wouldn’t want to do without a stove forever, but it’s surprising how much you can make without one!

  8. Jen

    Just found your blog and I love it. Made this for a side for dinner tonight and got several compliments. I substituted chives from the garden for parsley I can never grow. Can’t wait to try your pad thai tomorrow night!

  9. cathy

    Michael: Roughing it can be tough, but in a fun, challenging sort of way, huh?
    Steff: I’d considered the sesame oil and sesame seed thing, too, ha!
    Maria: Oh yes, the Dunkin’ Donuts is still there… do try to go there around 11pm 😉

  10. Wen-Jay

    Made this as a side dish to Cajun catfish. It was amazing and complimented the fish perfectly. Next time, I’m going to bring it to a bbq and put in cucumbers as well. Thanks, Cathy.

  11. Michelle

    Hi Cathy,

    Love your blog idea. I was living in NY for a while and it’s so hard to resist the restaurants! I recently had a salad with a mustard dressing that wasn’t very good. But the dressing tasted amazing on the shredded carrots. This is my new favorite pair: carrots and mustard. Thanks for the recipe!

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  13. Diane

    Looks great! I’d bet some horseradish in the dressing might be interesting…

  14. Jessica

    Love this recipe. Have made it a couple of times. I add minced garlic to the dressing.

  15. Carleen

    Just tried this recipe out with the family for dinner, since we had some parsnips in the fridge dying to be eaten. It was a hit — even my 3 yr old daughter loved it. I’ve never tried parsnips raw before, so I was a bit hesitant to try out the recipe, but it was surprisingly refreshing. The dressing with that bit of honey really pairs well with it. Thanks for sharing!

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  20. Dom

    Try white balsamic in the dressing….

  21. Theodora Links

    Love this, simple and easy.

  22. Janis

    Have found that most processed foods are making me very sick. So, trying to eat raw. I found this recipe while searching for raw food recipes. I tried it and love it!!! So simple, yet refreshing and delicious. Will be making it often. Thank you for sharing it with us!!

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  25. Colorful Canary

    Thank you for your lovely culinary creation!

    This is just a little note to let you know that I have featured this delicious looking recipe on my blog.


    Thank you for all that you do 🙂

  26. Similo

    I am going to do a Literature review on Parsnip so I chose this recipe to demonstrate in class,so what tips may you give me about this recipe

  27. Frank

    You can add the stems of broccoli to the mix, and if you use the heirloom carrots, lots of colors.
    For the broccoli stems, peel the tough layer of the stem off, discard (compost), then peel the strips like the carrots and parsnips. The broccoli stems are sweet and crunchy.

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    Thank you! I hope to see more recipes from you, this helps me a lot.

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