Wednesday, February 18, 2009

End of winter carrot and raisin salad

The end of February can be a very tiring time. You’re tired of wearing that long, black, down-filled coat that keeps you warm but makes you look like a stack of tires. You’re tired of the sun staying in the sky longer without generating any extra heat. And you’re tired of seeing at the farmer’s market only potatoes, winter squash and carrots. Fortunately, with the carrots you can make a sweet salad that holds a promise of warmer days to come: carrot and raisin salad.

I’m a late convert to carrot and raisin salad. When I was in college I had a friend who would go nuts whenever they put some out on the salad bar. She’d eat bowl after bowl and I’d just be horrified. Who wants to eats shredded carrots with raisins? It just seemed like a bad combination.

And then there were the endless church suppers where you could always find a big bowl of it in potluck purgatory alongside the green jiggling Jell-O and fruit salad made with tiny marshmallows. Nope, carrot and raisin salad just wasn’t for me.

But then, I grew up and my palate changed. I’ve started to enjoy raisins. And I’ve always loved carrots. So one day I decided to take the plunge and make a batch.

I looked at the recipe that Luby’s uses, which for many seemed to be the carrot and raisin gold standard. It called for copious amounts of mayonnaise, but I thought I’d lighten mine up with Greek-style yogurt. It also called for pineapple, but I had some fresh juicy oranges on-hand so I used orange juice instead. I added some ginger and cinnamon for spice and found myself with a sweet, crunchy salad that was both fresh and satisfying.

Carrot and raisin salad has been good company the past few weeks. I know that it’s something that people serve year round, but for me it’s become that bridge between late winter and early spring. And during these final tiring days of winter—bright, crisp carrot and raisin salad has proven itself to be delightful refreshment indeed.

What do you put in your carrot and raisin salad?

Carrot and raisin salad
Ingredients:
3 large carrots, shredded (2 cups)
1/4 cup Greek-style yogurt
1/2 cup raisins
2 tablespoons of orange juice (juice from ½ half of a large orange)
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon mayonnaise

Method:
Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for two hours.
Serves four
Note: This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled. And if it seems to dry to you, feel free to add more yogurt or mayonnaise.

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39 comments:

Nicole said...

My grandpa and uncle are both California farmers and for as long as I can remember they have grown grapes for raisins. I grew up eating them all the time, and I still love them (especially when covered in chocolate)! But I have to say that I never liked carrot raisin salad either, because I'm not a fan of plump, rehydrated raisins! But perhaps it's time to give it another try, and maybe I'll just add the raisins right before eating! :-)

Helene said...

I'm always looking for new carrot salad. Thanks for the recipe. I like the use of cinnamon in it.

Culinarywannabe said...

I haven't visited carrot and raisin salad for so many years, I can't even remember if I like it or not. I will take anything that promises hopes for warmer weather though!

Brenda in Texas said...

Hi Lisa, This is a dish that I make several times a year but no one in my fam really cares for it but me. I add walnuts or pecans, maybe some finely choppped apples. I add a little bit of sugar to the mayonnaise along with the cinnamon and ginger. The orange juice sounds good, I will try it for sure.
Hope you have some warm weather there soon.
It is about 70 here today but very windy. Always look forward to your recipes and your stories.

lisaiscooking said...

Yogurt sounds like a great idea. Now I'm tempted to make my first carrot raisin salad!

roastdmallow said...

What I don't put in my carrot salad is mayonnaise or yogurt. I use the citrus juice, lemon or orange, and olive oil to make a vinaigrette instead.
I also make one that can be eaten warm or cold with caramelized garlic, ginger, chilies and sundried tomatoes. I add the carrots to cook just long enough to take off the raw edge. Finish with citrus juice and almonds when it's time to eat.

Phoo-D said...

I love carrot and raisin salad but don't have a good recipe. This looks wonderful and vibrant!

Paula Maack said...

Yummy!! I love the addition of ginger and yogurt!

Congratulations on making the London Times World's Top 50 Food Blogs. You certainly have my vote!!!

Cheers,

~ Paula

Anna said...

I'm a native texan, still living in the lone star state. Oddly, I happen to be vegetarian, so often I'm not really into some of the "Texan" meat-centric recipes, but I still enjoy reading about them and your love for my beloved home-state. I grew up with carrot salad - my mom made it much as you described, though with just a spoonful or so of mayo, just enough to bring it together but not so that anyone noticed. Lightly toasted pecans were a must along with the raisins and pineapple. I think it's best the first day, before the raisins get all fat and the pecans get squishy. As an adult I've started adding a bit of cumin and the smoky flavor goes really well with the sweetness. Personally I skip the cinnamon and ginger. Thanks for the fun post!

Farmer Jen said...

Sounds delicious! I will try this.

Karen said...

I've eaten this since I was a little girl. Just carrots, raisins and mayo!

Jill of All Trades said...

I LOVE carrot raisin salad....yummy.

Lynda said...

I, too have not been a carrot salad lover, and I haven't converted yet. But your version sounds different enough that I might have to give it a try!

janesnotes said...

Haven't tried this yet but I may yet. i like your chili and enchillada recipe.

Yoyo said...

Hope this doesn't double post having a little trouble ...

I have always loved carrot and raisin salad but this one sounds over-the-top marvelous. I'm off to make it up right away.

As I mentioned once before I absolutely L-O-V-E your blog. Please take a moment to stop by Dragon My Needle to see the fabulous award you've just received.

Anonymous said...

Your salad looks good but I really hate carrot rasin salad. And by the way you should be in Texas right now in Austin anyway because it was a beautiful sunny 80 degrees.

Anonymous said...

Okay, thanks so much for responding to my " where is it" - I don't know why I couldn't see but did now & love all the comments as well. I have made my version of this C & R salad for years, & it's a little like all mentioned, but no cinnamon or orange juice. I will now change it up a little to make it more like yours - then I'll wait for compliments, etc. Edith

Alisa - Frugal Foodie said...

I make a very similar salad, very comforting. Your photography of it is excellent though, I never thought of this salad as a looker before :)

Paula said...

I laughed out loud at your "potluck purgatory" comment! The worst I ever saw was shredded cabbage and fruit cocktail encased in lemon jello. *shiver* I don't have a recipe for carrot salad, but just today I was wondering what I could make with these raisins! I've had them in that broccoli bacon salad, and like it, so I'm sure I'd love this carrot salad. It's color alone pulls me in! YUM!

Theabroma said...

There are many variations on a theme of carrot salad in the Maghreb, generally including oranges in some guise and dressed with an olive oil and lemon juice vinaigrette ... but the way you jiggled the Luby's model not only sounds wonderful (I'm on my way to the kitchen now), but definitely puts it in the North African branch of the Carrot Salad family. Thanks for this!

Jumper said...

Congtatulations on the Times (London) "best of" food blog listing! I put you on my "Favorites" list as soon as I found your blog a few weeks ago. I knew I was on to something good...

Anonymous said...

Hi again - Okay, this blog-reading is becoming addictive. I howled at the comments by Paula, referring to the use of "potluck purgatory". Who of us hasn't stood before a "buffet" and viewed the 20 or so items on it only to realize that they all came from one huge vat - now they have individual "titles" and STILL all taste the SAME. Yuck! Now I have to go back to reading! BTW - we are former Texans in that we vacationed there in spring break - in the valley, kids-in-tow, 13 times - so we qualify, right? Edith.

Anonymous said...

I love C&R salad, one year after the birth of my second son, I only ate C&R salad for a few weeks and lost most of my baby fat...I didn't do this on purpose, my mom had made some and I just couldn't stop eating it. The pounds started falling off so I just kept eating it...however, her version had the pineapple and mayo in it. I don't think I have had it since, that son is now 23 years old. I had forgotten about it until I saw your blog...brought back wonderful memories...which is what your food selections do for me....So now, i am going to make me a batch using your version with yogurt. I am Mexican and a native of San Antonio and your recipes make me homesick...i have lived in Washington, DC, for 21 years now...I will move back home one day but until then, I just LOVE, LOVE reading your stories. I just came back from a visit home and of course I came back with my stash for the year, which included 3 suitcases full of frozen barbacoa, menudo, chorizo, tamales and tortillas...yep,set for the year.
Teresa

Anonymous said...

Your story sounds similar to mine. As a kid, was never a big fan of raisins nor carrot raisin salad. Throw in mayo and canned pineapple and it was definitely not going near my mouth. But now that I'm older, like you, my palate "appreciates" ingredients that were forbidden before and after looking at your recipe, I think I'll give it a try. The greek yogurt won me over! :)

twobarkingdogs said...

What a great salad! We make it many different ways. My favorite is:

- shave the carrots into ribbons with the veg pealer instead of chopping
- light mayo instead of yogurt
- small can of drained chopped pineapple
- couple of handfuls of salted peanuts
- green onions/scallions
- lots of fresh ground pepper

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Nicole--That sounds like the perfect solution. And I didn't know that your family grew grapes for raisins--how cool.

Helene--I'd probably put cinnamon in everything if I could!

Culinarywannabe--Sounds like now is the time to try it again!

Brenda in Texas--I love that you add apples and nuts! And I envy your 70 degree weather--it's about 10 degrees here today. But I'll be in TX in two weeks so will definitely see some warmth soon!

Roastdmallow--Your salad sounds so grown up! I'll have to try it your way next time.

Phoo-D--Thank you!

Paula Maack--Thank you! I was so surprised to see that--such an honor!

Anna--Cumin? That gives it that nice South of the Border flavor I bet.

Karen--Nice and simple!

Jill--It is good, isn't it?

Lynda--Enjoy!

Janesnotes--Thank you!

Yoyo--Thanks for the award!

Anon--I'll be there in 2 weeks. Can't wait!

Edith--I'm glad you were finally able to see it--sometimes Blogger acts up. And sure, I'd say you're an honorary Texan!

Alisa--If you squint, it kind of looks like shredded cheddar cheese to me.

Paula--Um, that has to be the worst combination EVER!

Theabroma--I like the olive oil and lemon combination!

Jumper--Thanks! It's quite an honor!

Teresa--Three suitcases? Wow! I usually only return with one. And I didn't even think of carrot and raisin salad as diet food, but I guess it is.

Anon--I'm a sucker for anything with Greek yogurt. How did we live before it became so popular?

Twobarkingdogs--Peanuts and scallions? Yum!

Julie said...

I've never had a carrot and raisin salad but I'm all for anything that makes February feel any less February-ish!

Rachel said...

You might want to try it with a handfull of rough chopped walnuts thrown in at the last minute, it makes a good addition.

Manders said...

Yum--I'm not a big fan of carrot-raisin salad, but this sounds really, really good.

Laurie said...

I've always kind of avoided carrot raisin salad and never made it, but you've convinced me to give it a try. Love the orange juice addition. This would make a healthy snack for kiddos lunch boxes too!

Lisa (dinner party) said...

Wow, this brings me back. We had Morrison's Cafeteria instead of Luby's, and a bowl of this always made it on my tray. The only difference, I think, is that the version I ate had crushed pineapple (from a can, obvs.) in it. I love youe idea of using Greek yogurt. I may have to revisit this!

SueS said...

Sounds so yummy - with the cinnamon on this freezing cold day in Iowa. Thanks.

Lauri said...

I love carrots. I love raisins. I must admit, though, I've never even been tempted to try carrot raisin salad! Until now. It sounds oddly refreshing. Especially the addition of a little OJ.

Love your blog! I'm a homesick Texan living in Northern Virginia.

Anonymous said...

Carrot Raisin salad is so yummy.Lots of color full of flavor, anti-oxidants. I like carrot salad that is Jelled into JELLO. I make it with shredded carrots, finely sliced celery, walnuts pieces and then put that in partially set Lime, Orange, or Lemon JELLO.

Ann said...

Sounds like 'church basement' potlucks that every church in Minnesota had when I was growing up...right down to the green jell-o! "And then there were the endless church suppers where you could always find a big bowl of it (carrot-raisin salad) in potluck purgatory alongside the green jiggling Jell-O and fruit salad made with tiny marshmallows." At a Minnesota potluck, everyone brings 'a dish to pass', and casseroles are called 'hotdishes'. Ann in Lansing, MI

Cate said...

I've never added raisins to my carrot salads, but will try now. I just grate carrots, and add chopped apple and either walnuts or pecans, with a little thinned out mayonnaise. Just discovered your blog!

Ron Harper said...

Found the recipe last night. Tried it today. Yummy. Nice twist. AND (since the store was out of ginger root) I now have a jar of minced ginger that I will have to find some uses for

Jennifer said...

This is something I buy in the supermarket regularly, but think I'll have to start making it at home now. Your recipe seems to simple, now hopefully it is.

Jennifer

A Southern Sanctuary said...

A friend of mine gave me her Luby's cookbook from when she cooked there. She says they used to mix their mayo with powdered sugar to give it that special sweet taste! I just know that I always loved theirs. I'm going to try your version too.

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