Every heard of celeriac? It also goes by the name celery root. Put simply, it is an ugly, knobby, root vegetable that tastes like celery but is starchy like a potato. You can eat it raw or cooked; roasted, baked, steamed, cooked in soups, braised, raw, doesn't matter, celeriac is always delicious. And while celeriac hasn't captured any remarkable popularity here in the States yet, celeriac is very popular in other parts of the world, especially in French cuisine. Ah yes, the French love their celeriac, and I love the French. One of classic French celeriac dishes is celeri rémoulade. Like most French salads, is remarkably simple and totally delicious; shredded celeriac in a mustardy mayonnaise dressing, sometimes with a bit of hard-boiled egg added in, other times with a pinch of tarragon. I had the fortune of eating this salad in France on a number of occasions, and was always delighted with it. Seriously, the French really know how to work with vegetables; much can be learned from the way their cuisine celebrates and highlights the natural flavors and textures of each ingredient.
Since I'm off the mayonnaise these days (no more eggs for me, boo), but still have this deep love of of celeri rémoulade, I like to make my own mayo-free versions. I come up with various versions of it pretty frequently, with whatever I have on hand. Sometimes I opt for a tart, vinaigrette-type dressing, other times I use a creamy one. Regardless of the ingredients or dressing, a few things are always certain: it is simple to make, it is always delicious, and allows me to sink deep into daydreams of France.
On another French-inspired note, I am working on a recipe for a vegan Chickpea Paté de Campagne for my cookbook-to-be, inspired by the hearty, country-style patés found at French street markets and boucheries. Those patés convinced me that liver is truly fit to eat - as a vegetarian, I remember waxing philosophical about how nasty it was for people to eat liver. Despite my conversion to a meat eater, I also love meatless food, and am hell bent on making a meatless paté that is just as delicious and satisfying as the real thing. Well, I completed my task with flying colors: my first batch was a total hit, and loved by all who tried it. It was incredibly savory, hearty, and totally addictive. I ate a thick slice of it today for lunch with a smear of mustard and homemade pickles, in the true French style. Fantastique! The more I cook, the more I realize that I totally dig French cuisine, and all the preserving, fermenting, cooking, seasoning, and baking techniques that the traditional gastronomy employs. Like the rest of the foodies out there right now, I'm about ready to have a marathon viewing session of "The French Chef".
CELERI REMOULADE A.K.A. CELERIAC SLAW
1 medium celeriac/celery root, peeled and shredded (about 4 c)
2 T fresh parsley, minced
optional: 2 pinches dry tarragon
optional: 1/2 tsp celery seed
fresh cracked pepper
1/4-1/2 c Creamy Cashew-Mustard "Mayo" dressing (recipe below)
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. While water heats, wash and peel celeriac, and shred with a large-hole grater. Add shredded celeriac to boiling water, and blanch for about 1 minute.
Make a batch of the Creamy Cashew-Mustard "Mayonnaise" dressing, and put in the fridge to chill and thicken.
Drain immediately, and pat dry with a towel. Place dry celeriac in a large bowl.
Mince parsley, and add to bowl with celeriac, sea salt, pepper, tarragon, and celery seeds. Add 1/4-1/2 c of the "Mayo" to desired flavor/consistency, and toss to evenly coat.
Serve immediately, or chill and serve later. Will keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Adapted from Karina's brilliant Egg Free Olive Oil Mayo recipe
Karina uses xanthan gum to thicken her Mayo - I opted against it, and ended up with a creamy dressing instead of a thick mayo. Sometime I will try it with a little guar gum, and see if it will thicken with that. Regardless, the thinner but still creamy dressing is great for this salad, but is definitely not like mayonnaise. It will thicken up once it chills, and become more like mayo - but once it warms up, it will be much thinner again. The olive oil really shines through, so chose a high quality oil with a good flavor. This is very rich, so a little goes a long way. It sounds like a clumsy process, but it is very quick to prepare - 5 minutes tops!
Yield 3/4 c2 T cashew butter (or sesame tahini)
3-4 T apple cider vinegar
3-4 T cold rice milk (or other milk substitute)
1/2 c olive oil
2 tsp ground mustard
In a small mixing bowl or blender place the cashew butter, vinegar, rice milk, sea salt, and mustard, and beat/process to combine.
With the mixer/blender running, add the olive oil in a slow and steady stream. Continue to beat or process until the mixture gets creamy and starts to thicken, adjusting seasoning as necessary with beaters running. Be patient! Mixture will naturally thicken and emulsify.
Place in the refrigerator and chill; mixture will thicken as it chills. Use within 3 days.