Delicate carrot, cucumber, and daikon radish ribbons make a salad that is tossed in a nutty, citrusy, cilantro dressing, emulsified with olive oil and red onion, and garnished with feta and pine nuts!


carrot, cucumber and daikon salad arranged by color on a serving platter with dressing and garnished with pine nuts and feta cheese.

Recently I came across colored daikon radishes at a farmer’s market. While most recipes for using daikon involve slices, chunks, or matchsticks (common in Southeast Asian cooking), I wanted to take advantage of the length of the daikon radish and peel it into ribbons. Carrots and cucumbers are similarly long and commonly paired, so the three could make a perfect trio of vegetables, and this salad was born.

Three types of daikon radish (white, red,purple) shown on counter.

The daikon radish

The most common daikon radish is long and white. Because of their length, sometimes you find them cut into pieces at the store. Beautiful pink and purple varieties are less common, which are fun to use in this salad if you can find them.

In addition, many carrot and cucumber or daikon and carrot salad recipes are Southeast Asian-based with sesame and vinegar dressings, more like a pickled salad. But, in this case, I was inspired by pesto. Cilantro and dill create the herby base, orange and lemon bring the tang, and pine nuts add the nuttiness like pesto (I’ve left the salty cheese pesto component for a garnish). The other inspiration for this salad is the desire to serve it arranged by color to highlight the gorgeous vegetables. Peeling the vegetables into long ribbons is a fun and delicious way to allow for the showstopping presentation I hoped for.

a serving of carrot, cucumber, daikon salad, tossed on a small plate with a fork.

Why this recipe works

This recipe has a satisfying flavor from crunchy, mild, thin ribbons of vegetables. The pesto “adjacent” (haha I love this new buzzword) flavor of the dressing is taken up a notch from the rich fatty flavor of pesto to a lighter more tangy flavor that gives the salad some pep without overpowering the flavors. The recipe makes more than enough dressing so that some is left to drizzle on top, use the next day to enhance leftovers, or on another salad.

What I also love about this salad is how it works as an alternative to the popular “rainbow salads”. It’s not quite as over the top as most rainbow salads (with so many ingredients) but you are getting the hit of multiple vegetables, a nuttiness from the pine nuts, great crunch in many colors, and a slurpable dressing that tastes herby, creamy and tangy but not oily.

Ingredient notes

  • Vegetable ribbons- the trio of carrot, cucumber, and daikon radish can all be peeled into long ribbons for this salad. Scrub well to clean the skin before using a vegetable peeler (or mandoline) to turn the entire vegetable into a pile of ribbons. There aren’t any substitutions for the vegetables.
  • Dressing- the emulsified dressing comes together easily in a food processor, blender, or immersion blender. You can sub parsley for cilantro and/or you can use more dill and less cilantro, depending on what herbs you love the most. The pine nuts can be used raw or toasted. I prefer their raw flavor (less bitter). This dressing focuses on orange over lemon, for a sweeter, milder citrus flavor. The smaller amount of lemon juice is still important to give the dressing enough tang, without overpowering.

Step-by-step instructions

The first thing to do is wash and scrub the carrots, cucumber, and daikon since you will eat the outer layers (you will eat the entire vegetable). Then use a vegetable peeler to turn all of the vegetables into a pile of ribbons. Set them aside (on paper towels to absorb extra water) and keep them separate for now.

Next, you will want to prep some of the dressing ingredients by zesting and juicing the orange and 1/4 lemon, chopping the onion and chopping the fresh herbs (after washing).

Then place all of the dressing ingredients in the food processor and blend for 10-20 seconds or so until the dressing is emulsified and the ingredients are smooth. I find the larger the batch, the smoother the dressing gets, so this recipe makes more than enough for one salad.

Tips for serving and storing leftovers

  • My favorite way to serve this salad is to arrange the three vegetable ribbons by color on a shallow platter, then drizzle the dressing across the vegetables and garnish with herbs, crumbled feta, and pine nuts.
carrot cucumber daikon salad, arranged by vegetable color and shown close up.
  • The salad also looks pretty as shown below, tossed into a beautiful mess with some dressing then drizzled with more and garnished with feta, herbs, and pine nuts.
  • Leftovers can be stored and served the next day (but probably not after the 2nd day), as the water in the vegetables and juice in the dressing will create too much moisture to maintain the fresh, crunchy flavor.
  • As mentioned above, there is leftover dressing which can last several days and be used on other salads or as a dip.

Other recipes

If you like daikon radishes, try a new way to eat them- blanched and pureed into a bean dip by making my White Bean, Artichoke & Radish Dip with Crispy Topping and if you like making multi-colored recipes that use multiple veggies, try my yummy Healthy Vegetable Bhaji (a.k.a. spiced vegan fritters)

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serving of carrot, cucumber and daikon salad.

Carrot Cucumber Daikon Salad with Cilantro Citrus Dressing

Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Servings4
Calories338
Delicate carrot, cucumber, and daikon radish ribbons are tossed in a nutty, citrusy cilantro dressing, emulsified with olive oil and red onion, and garnished with juicy feta and pine nuts!

Ingredients
 

Vegetables for salad
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 English cucumber (see notes)
  • 1/4 daikon radish (see notes)
Dressing ingredients (makes more than needed, see notes)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 orange (zest and juice)
  • 1/4 lemon (zest and juice)
  • 1/4 cup red onion chopped
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts raw or toasted (your preference, I prefer raw)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro (leaves & stems)
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
Garnishes
  • 2 oz feta
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts raw or toasted (your preference, I prefer raw)
  • orange zest

Method:  

Prepare the vegetables
  • Wash vegetables, scrubbing the exterior, but do not peel them.
  • Use a vegetable peeler (or mandoline slicer if you prefer) to ribbon the vegetables.
  • Keep separate from one another for now.
Make the dressing
  • Roughly chop onions, cilantro and dill.
  • Grate the zest from 1/2 of the orange and 1/4 the lemon.
  • Squeeze the juice from the entire orange and the 1/4 lemon.
  • Place all ingredients in food processor, blender or use immersion blender to emusify and puree the ingredients smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings and the citrus ingredients to your liking.
Serve the salad
  • One way to serve the salad is to arrange the vegetable ribbons on a shallow serving platter by color as shown in top photo. The dressing is then drizzled over the top. Garnish with pine nuts and crumbled feta and zest a bit of orange or lemon over the cucumber for contrast there.
  • Alternatively, you can toss all the ribbons together, and dress and garnish as above, or you can toss the dressing into the ribbons and then garnish.

Notes

English cucumber- these are the long cucumbers with thin skin and that come wrapped in plastic. The delicate skins are nice to eat, and add green color to this dish. If you use a typical cucumber, you may find the skin to waxy to eat and may prefer not to make ribbons with the skin.
Daikon radish- these typically are all white, but if your store or farmer’s market has the pink or purple ones, they look pretty in this dish, as I have used. They are usually a couple of inches in diameter and I only turn about 1/4-1/3 of it into ribbons for this salad to serve 4.
Dressing- only half the recipe is needed to dress this salad but it is nice to have extra to drizzle at the table because it is so good and not oily.
The nutrition info is only accurate if 4 people eat all of the dressing, which you probably will not.

Nutrition (an estimate)

Calories: 338kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 13mg | Sodium: 483mg | Potassium: 462mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin C: 33mg | Calcium: 125mg | Iron: 2mg | Magnesium: 60mg | Net Carbohydrates: 11g
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