I’m very happy to share this recipe with you today for two reasons: it is the oldest recipe in my Mom’s voluminous files that she assembled over many decades, and celeriac is a nutritious and delicious vegetable that many cooks have never even seen let alone prepared. This recipe for celeriac salad is written on a little card in my Mother’s handwriting with a note that it came from her Great Grandmother, Helen Zeller. It was always on our dinner table during the holiday season because it reminded my Mom of her Grandmother and their family traditions. We finicky kids wouldn’t touch it back then but Mom always made it because it brought back memories that she treasured. I have developed a taste for it over the years for the same reason and appreciate its nutritional value so it has worked its way into many of my fall and winter recipes.
Celeriac (sell-air-e-ak) is a vegetable that is a member of the celery family and only its root is used for cooking purposes. Also known as celery root, knob celery, and turnip rooted celery, celeriac has a taste that is similar to a blend of celery, parsley and, in my opinion, artichoke hearts. Additionally, celeriac is grown similarly to celery, as its seeds are sown outdoors in the spring and the vegetable is harvested when its roots are developed. Celeriac was originally grown in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. Although celeriac is not as commonly used in the United States as it is in other countries, you can still purchase celeriac in the fall and winter months in some larger supermarket chains and specialty grocery stores.
In Europe celeriac is a historic favorite. The vegetable’s most classic use is in the cold French salad celerie remoulade, in which the root is peeled, grated or cubed, blanched briefly in acidulated water, then dressed with a mustardy mayonnaise.
This is Mom’s version of our traditional celeriac salad. I appreciate it now and can’t imagine our Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner without it. If you see this knobby vegetable in your local market I hope you will give it a try. The recipe is very inexpensive to make and it’s fun to add a little something new to those tried and true holiday menus.
- 1 celery root, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon creamed horseradish
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- fresh parsley, chopped
- salt and pepper
- Peel the celery root and cut the flesh into ½ to ¾ inch cubes. Place in medium sized saucepan, cover with water and the juice of ½ lemon and cook until barely fork tender. Drain and cool.
- Combine the red wine vinegar, mustard, horseradish, water, sugar and dill. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the mixture is creamy.
- Pour the dressing over the cooked celery root. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Garnish with green onion and parsley.
- Serve chilled.
My market neighbor, Susan, holding a giant stalk of celery from DeNoble Farms. The big, gnarly celery roots seen in this post don’t produce these big stalks. I just wanted you to see how big celery can grow.
A mature celery root . All the plant’s energy goes into the root and the small stalks are discarded.
Because celeriac can be used in recipes that call for celery, its use is limitless. It is, however, especially good when used as an ingredient in soups and stews or when cooked and accompanied by potatoes as a side dish. Throughout Europe, celeriac is a popular vegetable to use in cooking because of its diversity and its nutritional benefits. A 1/2 cup serving of celeriac, which is approximately 112 grams, contains only 30 calories. Additionally, celeriac contains no cholesterol or fat and provides an excellent source of dietary fiber. Because of its taste and consistency, it is also an excellent addition to meals that require lower calories or certain dietary restrictions.
Celeriac Salad isn’t the most visually stunning dish in the world. It is a drab off white, even with a good sprinkling of parsley so I julienned several purple carrots, marinated them in a little dressing and sprinkled them on top of the salad just before I served it. It dresses it up a bit, don’t you think?
Just in case you wondered, I intended to turn the Christmas tree image on my Spode bowl to the back in the top photo and completely forgot to do it. I need to pay more attention to what I’m doing I guess.
Additional Celeriac Recipes you might like to try:
Food Network - Celery Root and Potato Mash with Horseradish
Orangette – Purée of Celery Root Soup
Food & Wine – Celery Root and Mushroom Lasagna
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