Thursday, April 19, 2012

Celery Root, Mr. Ugly

Celery root is the big gnarly thing you see in the produce case, if your grocery carries a few of the more unusual fruits and vegetables. In my latest quest for some variety in my vegetables, I decided to get to know this guy.

It has the look of something that must be tamed by heat, but in looking through my Cook's Illustrated, I see that it is also salad material. Since I was low in the ingredient list for most of the other recipes in my book, I decided to try Celery Root and Apple Salad with(out) Parsley. I don't usually have parsley unless I have bought it on purpose for a recipe, so I had to go without. But I did put a pinch of Herbs de Provence in the dressing to try to make up for it.

First you cut off the tops of the root and then peel it. Peeling it isn't all that easy, because you have some grooves and crevices of ugly stuff that need to come off, but you don't want to take away too much of the good part, since you have paid a little bit more for this than you would have for a bundle of regular celery. You are left with a white ball that is about the size and shape and color of a baseball.

It called for one Granny Smith apple, but I don't buy those. In my opinion, they are all picked too soon and are too bitter. When I had a GS tree, I let them stay on for awhile and they developed a wonderful tangy sweetness, not getting soft or pithy for a long time after that. So I use Pink Ladies when they call for GS, unless it is for baking. I cut and quartered the apple and then cut the celery root up into chunks. Then I fed them into the food processor with the shredding blade. The mixture looked sort of like shredded potatoes with pink flecks.

The dressing was made with lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt, oil, pinch of sugar, and a little sour cream. I didn't have any sour cream, so I used half yogurt and half mayonnaise. I stirred it in and let it rest for about 15 minutes.

It was actually very nice. It would have been prettier with the parsley; it did look a little insipid. But the texture was tender/chewy, and it had a very light celery flavor. I would say it is a very good alternative to cole slaw.