This celery root salad is a classic French side dish. You will find ready made céleri rémoulade all over France in grocery stores and delicatessens. It could be considered the French equivalent of coleslaw (although they have this as well), and you are quite likely to see it served as an accompaniment to various cold meats or fried fish.
Celery Root, Celeriac
If you are not familiar with celery root, or celeriac as it is also called, you may enjoy giving it a try. Despite its disheveled appearance, this is a very mild root vegetable. It is indeed the underground portion of the much better known celery, so it is not surprising that it has some of celery's smell and taste.
I am not going to mislead you and say this celery root salad recipe is the most exciting of tastes. But that is not its raison d'être. Céleri rémoulade is happy to sit on the side lines and provide a pleasantly crunchy little something that goes perfectly with fried fish or even fried chicken. You can lively up a celery root salad in much the way you might doctor up your favorite coleslaw recipe. Add in other vegetables such as carrots, pickles, or beets or try some different herbs: dill, tarragon, or chervil for example. Please do note though that the French seem to be quite happy with this dish just as it is.
Cleaning and Peeling. Celery root should be dirty, but do not try to wash it first. Sometimes the mud can be quite caked on and adding water just makes a mess. To prepare celery root, slice off the top and the root end, then balance this flat surface on your cutting board. Then use a chef's knife to slice off the outer layer from the sides. Afterwards, rinse off the root, the knife and the cutting board with water.
Lemon Juice. After shredding the celery root, this recipe calls for tossing it with lemon juice. Do not skip this step or your celery root salad will begin to turn an unappetizing brown color.
Blanching. Some people prefer to blanche the shredded celery root before assembling the salad. This takes away a little of the toughness of this vegetable. Blanche for two minutes in boiling, lightly salted water, then rinse immediately in cold water.
Mayonnaise. Making your own mayonnaise is part of the recipe given here. Some French recipes call for using olive oil to make the mayo, but I find it too strong. If you prefer to substitute store bought mayonnaise, use 1/2 cup in replacement for the oil, egg yolk and salt.
Storing. This salad is best if it sits for 24 hours in the refrigerator. The celery root softens and absorbs more of the flavor of the dressing. However, be sure to use a very fresh egg yolk and do not keep the salad for more than a few days in the refrigerator even if you use store bought mayo.
1/2 large or 1 small celery root (total of 600 grams or a little more than 1 1/3 pounds)
juice of one lemon (1/4 cup)
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons vegetable oil (sunflower for example)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of pepper
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Peel. Slice off the top and bottom of the root, then slice off the outer layer. Rinse with cold water.
Shred. Shred the celery root in a food processor and place it in a salad bowl.
Juice. Juice the lemon and pour the lemon juice on the celery root. Toss to cover all of the vegetable with lemon juice.
Make mayonnaise. Place the egg yolk, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in a blender. Turn the blender on and once these ingredients are mixed, begin to slowly add the oil in a very thin stream. It should take about 2 minutes to add all of the oil.
Toss. Toss the celery root with this mayonnaise and the chopped parsley.
Variations: Substitute dill, tarragon, or chervil for the parsley. Add a couple tablespoons of chopped pickle or capers.