Celeriac (also called celery root or knob celery) might be one of the ugliest-looking veggies you’ll ever lay your eyes on. A plant species in the family of common celery, celeriac is grown for its bulb rather than its stems, which are stringy and unpalatable.
But beneath that scabby skin and those gnarly roots, celeriac hides an exquisitely perfumed white flesh. And although the root’s aroma is very pronounced, its flavor turns out to be quite delicate.
Combined with the fragrant, sweet apples, the ambrosial Meyer lemon vinaigrette and the spunky watercress, today’s salad wakes up the taste buds, and makes you (almost) forget that it’s midwinter.
Here’s to an ugly veggie that hides all its treasures in its foot!
A light- to medium-bodied white wine with good acidity and lemony notes is de rigueur here. I recommend a Verdicchio from Marche or a Vermentino from Sardegna. Both these Italian wines have a juicy acidity and bright flavors that complement this salad splendidly.
Celeriac and apple salad with watercress and Meyer lemon-shallot vinaigrette
active time: 30 min
For the vinaigrette
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated Meyer lemon zest (or regular lemon zest) (use microplane grater)
- 2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice (or 1 1/2 tablespoons regular lemon juice)
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 shallot – skinned and finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh dill
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the salad
- 1/2 medium celeriac bulb (6 oz) (170gr) – peeled
- 2 Gala or other firm-fleshed apples – unpeeled, halved and cored
- 2 bunches hydroponic watercress – stalks trimmed
- 1/4 cup pine nuts – toasted (see cook’s note)
- dill leaves as garnish
- freshly ground black pepper to taste as garnish
- Step 1: To make the vinaigrette – Place the zest, lemon juice, honey, shallot, dill, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk until well blended and set aside.
- Step 2: Using a mandoline, cut the celeriac in julienne slices, matchstick size (you should end up with 2 cups of celeriac slices). Place in a large bowl. Slice the apples in julienne slices also. Add them to the celeriac slices. Drizzle with half the vinaigrette and toss well.
- Step 3: Place a small mound of the watercress leaves in the center of each plate. Top with the celeriac/apple mixture. Drizzle with the balance of the vinaigrette, garnish with the pine nuts and a dill leaf. Finish with ground pepper to taste and serve immediately.
- Cook’s note: To toast the pine nuts – Place the pine nuts in a small skillet over medium-high heat, stirring constantly for 2 to 3 minutes until lightly golden.
Although this vinaigrette is perfectly wonderful with regular lemons, it becomes exquisite when made with Meyer lemons. Their intensely floral aroma makes these exotic lemons a treasured fruit – it’s well worth going the extra mile to find them. The season lasts from December through May, so there’s plenty of time to indulge!
Disclaimer: As always, my point of view is my own. I do not accept samples, and have no commercial relationship with any product, food or wine company.