Wednesday, February 10, 2010

An Ugly Looking Thing - Celeriac, Fennel & Apple Salad

Before tonight, I'd never had celeriac (also called celery root) any other way but pureed under a steak. It tried (and failed) to pass for mashed potatoes. You didn't fool me, celeriac, I know mashed potatoes when I see them. And you, are not mashed potatoes.

So I'd really never given it much thought beyond that. But, this morning I spent some quality time with my newest issue of Bon Appetit on the bus, and came across a charming essay and recipe from Molly Wizenberg which extolled the virtues of this ugly duckling of a vegetable. It peaked my curiosity, so I decided to give it a try. I was skeptical, it's true. Sitting on the shelf of my local produce market, the celeriac was an ugly looking thing. Covered in hair-like roots, dirt and dimples. But I then remembered several winning Top Chef recipes that put the vegetable to good use. I snagged one of the less offensive looking ones, and headed home to experiment.

And if you need a few more reasons to try it, how about this? The nutritional benefits include high fiber, high vitamin c, high in vitamin B6 and potassium. A good thing to eat if you're cautious about cholesterol and heart disease. The fiber makes it especially filling.

The taste was mild and refreshing. A perfect compliment to the apple and the fennel, the taste lying somewhere near a cross between the two. Doused in a sour and tangy vinaigrette, it was filling and delicious. It was also a welcome reprieve from the pounds and pounds of kale and chard I've been eating. I love those two things as much as the next person, but I've been eating them several times a week (if not more) for the past few months. It was time to broaden the winter salad options. And this is a perfect solution.

Celeriac, Fennel & Apple Salad
adapted (slightly) from Molly Wizenberg's Bon Appetit recipe

for the vinaigrette

1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp champagne vinegar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 small garlic clove, pressed
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the salad

1/2 medium celery root, peeled, cut into matchstick-size strips
1/2 medium fennel bulb, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
1/2 peeled Gala apple, cut into strips

Whisk the vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl. Combine celery root, fennel, and apple in large bowl. Toss with vinaigrette. The original recipe calls for shaved Parmesan on top. I didn't have any, and I don't think it needs it, but next time I'll add it in.


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  2. How come you don't like celery? This is such a nice way too prepare food! Nice and delicious! Come on! I mean, I will have to send you some recipes that will make you change your mind!