Celery Root Carrot Apple Salad will brighten up any meal. Whether the sun is actually shining (or not), this dish will be a ray of light on your table.
It begins with a simple and rather unsightly vegetable – celery root or celeriac. To paraphrase my mom, celery root has a face only a mother could love.
If you can just get beyond its gnarly surface, celery root is a crunchy and versatile vegetable. The French love it, grated, with a simple vinaigrette dressing. But don’t stop there. Celery root is more than just a “solo” player. It is also delicious cut into matchsticks and combined with other vegetables.
This particular recipe is a take-off on Elizabeth Schneider’s Salad of Celeriac, Carrots and Beets.
Schneider advises giving the raw celery root “at least several hours of marinating time to tenderize and mellow….” She’s right. It’s a dense vegetable and benefits from resting in the dressing.
If you want to learn more about celery root, check out Schneider’s book, Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini. Not just a cookbook about vegetable dishes, it is truly an encyclopedia. I find it invaluable, especially for vegetables I do not know much about. Celery root is definitely in that category. After reading her explanation of the vegetable, I felt emboldened to riff on her recipe and come up with this Celery Root Carrot Apple Salad.
I love the colors in this salad. You can mix them all together, but for a rainbow-like initial presentation, it’s nice to lay the elements out in a pattern.
Schneider describes the taste of the raw root as “vervy.” She notes that soaking it for an hour in salt and lemon juice makes for “a less assertive flavor” and that blanching it in boiling water provides “the mildest effect.” In her recipe for Celery Root in Mustard Sauce (Volume 1 of Mastering the Art of French Cooking), Julia Childs suggests soaking the matchsticks in salt and lemon juice for 30 minutes (half the time Schneider recommends), while Larousse Gastronomique, uses the blanching method for its celery root salad recipes.
Although you might be tempted to go straight from cutting to dressing the celery root, I highly recommend using one of these steps to cut the sharpness of the celery root, unless you’ve already tested totally raw celery root and decided that you love it.
Taking off from Schneider’s advice about marinating the celery root in the dressing, I marinated all the vegetables (and the cut-up apple) in the dressing overnight. The next day, I combined them on a serving platter and added a few toppings at the last minute. What a perfect way to do all the messy work the day before. Perfect party food!
While it’s pretty enough for party food, this salad is also great to keep for weekday eating. We found that it maintained its texture and taste well into the week. We ate it for dinner, enjoyed it as a substitute for cole slaw with sandwiches, and munched on it as a healthy snack. If you’re into French-style eating, they like celery root salad as an appetizer.
The ingredients for the dressing are measured, but you may want to vary the amounts based on the size of your vegetables and how tangy you like your salad.
Celery Root Carrot Apple Salad
This salad is a ray of bright sunshine on your table. Lightly dressed with a tangy yogurt-based vinaigrette, it is a healthy alternative to cole slaw or a great salad for brunch, lunch, or dinner. Great for a healthy snack too!
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 2/3 tablespoons olive oil Equivalent to 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons
- 1 1/3 tablespoon lemon juice Equivalent to 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon
- 1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt
- 1 celery root (also called celeriac)
- 2 tablespoons shallot, minced
- 2 large carrots
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 1/2 - 2 tart apples Granny Smith or similar
- 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
- 1/4 cup parsley, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon small capers, well rinsed
Whisk together the salt, mustard, lemon juice, olive oil and Greek yogurt. Set aside.
Cut off the outside of the celery root. Cut the inside into slices about 1/4-inch thick and stack several. Then cut the slices into sticks and if they are long, cut them in half. The result should be thin matchsticks. Either mix the matchsticks with 1 1/4 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and let them sit for 30-60 minutes, then rinse thoroughly and dry them off. Or, alternatively, blanch the matchsticks in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then immediately rinse in cold water and dry them off.
Cut apple into quarters and remove the core. Slice each quarter, then cut the slices into matchsticks.
Mix the celery root and the apple matchsticks in one bowl, along with the minced shallot. Add 2/3 of the dressing and combine thoroughly. Set aside
Cut the carrots into matchsticks after either peeling them or scrubbing the outside clean. Cut the red bell pepper into thin strips lengthwise and cut each strip into halves or thirds - again aiming for matchstick shapes.
Combine the carrot and red bell pepper matchsticks with the remaining 1/3 of the dressing, along with the dried dill. Combine thoroughly.
Refrigerate the two bowls, covered, for several hours or overnight. When ready to serve, spoon them decoratively onto a serving platter and top with the minced parsley and capers.