I’ve started pilfering my friend’s many cookbooks. You see, she’s quite the cookbook collector, but claims to rarely cook, which I know is not true. However, since she made this claim, I happily grabbed a number of her cookbooks to peruse and borrow indefinitely. One in particular is a beautiful book by ex Chez Pannisse alum David Lebovitz, who now resides in Paris, and whose cookbook now lives on my bookshelf.
I had been eyeing celery root, or celeriac as it’s often called, at the farmers market for the last few months. Because of my inquisitiveness about this famously-French root veggie, a recipe in Lebovitz’s cookbook, My Paris Kitchen jumped out at me. I now had a purpose for that knobby ball with tangled roots I’ve been curious about. Celery root is definitely an under appreciated vegetable in the United States, possibly because it’s kind of unattractive, maybe people mistake it for other root vegetables. You might think it is the root of the celery stalks we all hate to eat raw (seriously, who enjoys chewing on a stringy celery stick?) However, it is a kind of celery harvested for the root, not stalk.
Apparently in France celery root salad is as ubiquitous as coleslaw is in America. The tanginess of this salad would be a great accompaniment for a French inspired lunch of cured meats, olives, pickled things and a baguette.
After making this salad, celery root is now filed in my ‘don’t judge this vegetable by its appearance’ category. The flesh is crispy when raw and has a delicate taste which suggests the flavors of celery, but with a slight nuttiness. After enjoying my first experience, I’m excited to continue my foray into the world of celery root.
My kitchen notes
Some would say using store bought mayonnaise is unacceptable for a French salad like this. I used good ‘ole Best Foods, and it was not only acceptable, but good.
Celery Root Salad with Mustard Sauce, or Céleri Rémoulade Adapted from My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
2 pounds celery root (about two medium)
Finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- In a large bowl, mix together mayonnaise, sour cream, grainy mustard, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and salt.
2. Using a sharp knife, lop off the top and bottom ends of the celery root. Cut away the coarse skin, slicing it with a curved motion to match the curvature of the root, conserving as much of the flesh as possible.
3. Cut the peeled celery root in half and grate with a box grater.
4. Toss grated celery root into the bowl with the mayonnaise mixture. Stir with tongs or fork to incorporate. Top with flat-leaf parsley and serve. Salad will keep up to 2 days in the refrigerator.