Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Celeriac Salad

Another misunderstood vegetable, unless you're French of course and have grown up eating it as celeriac remoulade - a light and tangy salad of shoestrings of celeriac dressed with a mayonaise-mustard sauce. Actually, a traditional remoulade is an offshoot of the ingredients that it takes to make an aoli or mayonaise, with boiled egg yolk added to thicken the texture and often combined with lemon juice, mustard and something to cream it up, like mayo or in a nod to modernity, creme fraiche or even yogurt which could be enriched with a few tablespoons of heavy cream for improved taste and texture without too much extra calories. Celeriac is great mashed, especially when combined with potatoes to help 'cream' up the texture, or with other root veggies in combination. It's flavor is most definitely celery-like as opposed to fennel which always surprises with it's clean crunch and flavor.

Courtesy of vegetable man Meir Todress, we had celeriac last week and it was a real cause for celebration along with the gorgeous kale!!! and fresh bulbs of garlic that arrived in our box. We cooked and enjoyed these late winter early spring offerings - kale in soup and sauteed with other veggies (I'll write about kale shortly).

Ira and I admired the celeriac and while I considered the various options, he decided that a salad was the best option and the most obvious choice. He proceeded to start julienning. If someone wants to julienne veggies, you don't argue, you make the dressing. I like blanching the veggies before dressing them but Ira wanted it raw.

Before you shy away from julienning - and everyone should own a good mandoline (we need a better one as it just doesn't julienne well). We tried upgrading to the Oxo one which was $75 and discovered that it just wasn't worth it. So, it's clear that it's a $150 investment for a European one or bust. Then again, there's always the knife.

Celeriac Remoulade a la Beth and Ira
1. Pare and Slice the celeriac as thinly as possible. You'll feel like you're cutting away a lot of the veggie as it's a fairly gnarly looking root veg but persevere, there will still be veg left for the salad.
2. Optional: Bring a pot of salted water to boil and blanch for about 2 minutes, just taking the 'rawness' out of the veg. Given that it's julienned you don't need to do anymore than that.
3. Whisk together mustard, mayonaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper, apple juice/water/honey (according to taste and how loose or thick you want the dressing). Dress the salad.
4. Finely mince fresh parsley (dill could be nice as well) and add in some capers (you can use their liquid as your acid instead of lemon juice or in combo if you wish). Mix. Let it sit for a bit before eating and enjoy.

Some variations that seemed respectable.
http://www.elise.com/recipes/archives/000990celery_root_salad.php. With shredded apple/
http://thestonesoup.com/blog/2006/05/one-for-the-ladies/. Using creme fraiche.
http://www.greenchronicle.com/valentines_recipes/celeriac_salad_recipe.htm - the egg yolk method.
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/11069. Nice looking option, no apple.

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