Kinda sorta like French coleslaw
Celery root (celeriac) is a type of celery grown specifically for its root. Even if you’ve never used it, you’ve seen it in the grocery store. It’s the brown, knobby veggie that (to the uninitiated) looks like a rock. But trust me, it’s edible—with a subtle, delectable flavor.
Celeriac is better known in Europe than in the US. When shredded and served raw—as it is in this dish—it has a crisp crunch. Combine it with tangy dressing, and you have a dish that resembles coleslaw. And one that happens to be one of the iconic dishes of French cuisine.
You can serve Celery Root Rémoulade as a starter, instead of a salad. Or as a side dish to accompany most fish, meat, or poultry dishes. It even goes great with hamburgers. Or as they say in French, les hamburgers.
Recipe: Celery Root (Celeriac) Rémoulade
Celeriac is often served cooked, though it doesn’t have to be—as this recipe shows.
Just as with coleslaw, Celery Root Rémoulade can be made with a creamy dressing (mayonnaise-based) or a vinaigrette (olive oil-based). In both versions, mustard is the dominant flavor. I prefer vinaigrette, so that’s what we’re doing here. But in the Notes I explain how to make a mayo-based version.
This recipe has several steps, but all are quite simple and quick: Prepare a mustardy vinaigrette. Peel and shred the celeriac. Then toss it all together. Although celeriac has a tough hide, a good swivel peeler works quite well on it. Or do as I do: Perch the celeriac on one end, and use a knife to slice off the peel (much as you might cut the peel off an orange). You lose a bit of celeriac flesh this way, but you’ll be able to peel it in well under a minute.
One important point to keep in mind: Once you peel celeriac, its white flesh discolors very quickly. So as I peel, I rub the cut sides with a lemon slice (the acid in the lemon retards browning). Because this is such a quick recipe to prepare, discoloration shouldn’t be much of an issue—but do keep that lemon slice handy.
My recipe is adapted from Julia Child’s The Way to Cook.
This dish takes 10 minutes or so to prepare.
The recipe serves 6 to 8. Although it’s good right after you make it, it tastes even better after several hours in the refrigerator (it mellows out a bit).
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days.
- ¼ cup Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons boiling water
- ~1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- ~2 tablespoons wine vinegar
- ~1 pound celery root
- a couple slices of lemon
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ~2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Start by making the vinaigrette dressing: Add the mustard to a medium-sized bowl.
- Dribble in—drop by drop—the boiling water, using a whisk to thoroughly mix it with the mustard.
- Once mixed, dribble in the oil—drop by drop—until you’ve made a creamy sauce (again, use a whisk).
- Now dribble in the wine vinegar—drop by drop—whisking until you have a thick sauce.
- Taste the sauce, and add more vinegar if necessary. Wait until Step 9 to season it.
- Rinse off the celery root. You need to peel and shred it, but be aware that once peeled, celery root can discolor quickly. To prevent this, you need to work quickly. It also helps to rub a slice of lemon over each side of the celery root right after you cut it (the acid from the lemon helps prevent browning).
- Peel the celery root (see headnote for instructions). Trim the root so it will fit into the tube of a food processor. Then, using the shredding disc, shred the celery root. (You can also grate by hand, but that takes a bit of muscle.)
- Add the shredded celery root to a clean, medium-sized mixing bowl (not the one you’re using to make the vinaigrette). Add the lemon juice and toss well. Add the vinaigrette dressing to the celery root mixture, then toss to combine.
- Taste, and add salt and black pepper to taste; add additional wine vinegar if necessary. Add the chopped parsley. Toss all the ingredients again to combine. You can serve Celeriac Rémoulade immediately, though it will taste better if made a few hours ahead of time. Just store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- If you prefer to make a mayonnaise-based version of the dressing, here’s how: Place ¾ cup mayonnaise in a medium bowl. Beat in 1 tablespoon of mustard (or more to taste), and 1 to 2 tablespoons minced parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. Then proceed with Step 6.
- BTW, whether you’re using the mayo or the vinaigrette recipe: Do adjust ingredient quantities to suit your own taste. There are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to making these dressings.
- Well, there is one rule—I strongly recommend using good quality extra virgin olive oil. The flavor of the oil will be very apparent in the dressing, so you want something that tastes good.
- Likewise with Dijon mustard (OK, that’s two rules). The better the quality of the mustard, the better the dressing.
- French cooking is famous for its sauces, and one of the best known is Sauce Rémoulade. But the classic sauce differs from the dressing used in this dish. The classic sauce always contains capers and anchovies, but not mustard. So although the sauce and this dish share a name (Rémoulade) they have different flavors. If you think that’s confusing, what ‘til you get a load of French irregular verbs.
- There’s also a New Orleans version of Rémoulade Sauce. It’s usually mayonnaise-based and contains Creole mustard, horseradish, Cajun or Creole seasoning, and often hot sauce (like Tabasco). And sometimes a bit of tomato.
The Mother of all Celery
“Wow, who knew celery could be so versatile?” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Any more celery recipes coming up?”
“Think we’ll take a break from it,” I said. “But we’ll be featuring several more throughout the year—for both celery and celeriac.”
“Excellent,” said Mrs K R. “This Celery Root Rémoulade is wonderful! Celeriac is like celery on steroids.”
“You could say that celery root is the mother of all celery,” I said. “And Celeriac Rémoulade, with its wonderful mustard flavor, has such a nice, sunny personality.”
“Which makes it a dish I can root for,” said Mrs K R. “Definitely one that can cut the mustard.”
Any more of these puns, and I’ll need an escape root.
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