Celery Root Salad with Apple and Parsley (C)

October 9, 2006 at 1:43 am (C, Cook's Illustrated, French, Quick weeknight recipe, Root vegetables, Salads, Starches)


Rick at the Oakland Farmer’s Market had one lovely celeriac this week, with the beautiful dark greens still attached. When I put it in my bag the green tops sprung forth out of the bag—I got strange looks on the bus, and when I got back to the office Jacob asked if I had just come back from a farm.

I made a celery root salad from the French Vegetarian cookbook this summer that was interesting. I would have tried it again, but this one from Cook’s Illustrated has apples and parsley, both of which I got in my CSA basket this week.

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

Creamy Dijon Dressing
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil , or canola
3 tablespoons sour cream
Salad
1 medium celery root (13 – 14 ounces), peeled and rinsed
1/2 medium tart apple, cored and peeled
2 scallions, sliced thin
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley leaves
2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon leaves (optional)
  Table salt and ground black pepper
 
 

For the Dressing

1. In medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice, mustard, honey, and salt. Whisk in oil in slow, steady stream. Add sour cream; whisk to combine. Set aside.

For the Salad

2. Remove the top and bottom of the celery root and then use a paring knife to remove the outer layer of flesh from top to bottom. If using food processor, cut celery root and apple into 1 1/2-inch pieces and grate with shredding disc. (Alternatively, grate on coarse side of box grater.) You should have about 3 cups total. Add immediately to prepared dressing; toss to coat. Stir in scallions and parsley (and tarragon, if using; see note above). Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes. Serve.

Although not always available, fresh tarragon complements the flavor of celery root. If you can find it, stir in 2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon along with the parsley. Add a teaspoon or so more oil to the dressed salad if it seems a bit dry.

My Notes:

Cook’s Illustrated makes a big deal about how to peel the celery root. I don’t know what they’re fussing about; I just used my vegetable peeler (which I love, and deserves its own post) and it worked fine. They also say they tried different ways of cutting the celery root to maintain it’s crisp crunch, and liked grating it the best. I’m don’t agree. I liked the julienne of the other celery root salad much better than the grating. The hand-grated pieces seemed softer and less crisp. When you eat this salad you have the disconcerting sensation of grinding your teeth. It’s weird. I used a not too tart apple from my CSA, which I couldn’t really taste it the final salad, although maybe it made it a bit sweeter. I’m not sure I could taste the scallions either. I couldn’t cough up the $2.50 for the tarragon.

For the dressing, I used only 1 Tbs. olive oil and used nonfat yogurt instead of sour cream. It came out pretty well. I don’t think I like it as much as the lemon and mustard dressing I use for Berley’s green bean salad, but it wasn’t bad. It actually tastes pretty similiar to the dip I always improvise when I make baked tofu, except I add garlic, and leave out the olive oil. Altogether this salad was tasty, but not exciting. I think the dressing overwhelmed the celery root a bit?

Update from the next day. I could not eat the leftovers. One bite was all I could stand. Strange.

Update January 2008: I made this recipe for Derek, following the original recipe except for adding an extra apple since mine were small. I even added the tarragon, and grating the celery root in my food processor. Grating in the food processor helps since the pieces are larger and thicker, almost like julienne rather than hand grating. Despite the large amounts of fat in the recipe, I didn’t think it tasted super-rich, and I didn’t think it tasted like the traditional French dressing, I’m not sure why. Certainly the mustard seemed to dominate too much. Perhaps I didn’t use a very good dijon, or Derek added a bit too much when he measured it. The tarragon wasn’t very noticeable. I didn’t really care for this salad, but ate the leftovers at lunch the next day simply because I was hungry and it was what I had. Derek, on the other hand, liked the salad, saying “it’s refreshing.”

Rating: C
Derek: B

Cook’s Illustrated has a number of other variants I want to try. One that is very similiar to this one has you add to the salad:

1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
   

Other variants include pear and hazelnuts, and a version with mint, orange and fennel.

Update Dec 29: I had one small celery root (about the size of a large apple). I julienned it and tossed it with 1.5 Tbs. lemon juice, about 1 tsp. horseradish, 1 tsp. dijon mustard, and 1 Tbs. lowfat sour cream. It was pleasant, and well-dressed.

1 Comment

  1. pennylane said,

    That happens to me occasionally, too – I make something which seems quite nice at first only to find that I can’t stand the sight of the leftovers. Had the same experience with some borscht just yesterday. I think we work ourselves up to like something because we think it’s healthy or interesting or just something we want to like, only we don’t really like it after all. The leftovers, in my opinion, are the true test.

    However if you are still experimenting with celery root, how about this recipe:

    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/recipe_views/views/105822

    Although I live in France where celery root is quite common, this was my first time cooking with it, on Thanksgiving, and I thought it was really good. I even enjoyed the leftovers, on two separate occasions (although admittedly only after the sweet potatoes and cornbread casserole were gone)!

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