Sunday, January 25, 2009

Celeri Rémoulade

Celeriac, or celery root, is the edible root bulb of certain varieties of celery. Popular in the Mediterranean and throughout Europe, it is starting to become a more familiar vegetable in our local markets. Any true Sarasotan knows the once importance of celery to the area's economy, and that the site of the Old Packinghouse Cafe was once exactly that: a packinghouse for the celery crops. So not only is this a new up-and-coming vegetable, it is also local product! Yet another reason to try this curious looking root vegetable. With the beautiful celery that I buy at Jessica's Organic Farm, maybe there is a chance for celery to become, once again, a thriving local crop. Now, until last summer I had only had celeriac roasted and mashed. While we were in France, I was introduced to Celeri Rémoulade . In this dish the celeriac is grated/shredded and served in sort of a coleslaw style sauce. It has long been a favorite of my husband's and it was a new favorite of mine, so I was determined to come up with a recipe so that we could enjoy this popular French dish at our home in SRQ, using local ingredients (where possible). Here is what I came up with:

* 1 large or 2 small celeriacs
* 1/2 cup mayonnaise -
Dukes or freshly made
* ¼ cup crème fraîche (sour cream or Greek Yogurt will also work well)
* 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
* 1 tbsp white wine, salad, cider, or tarragon vinegar
* celery salt

Combine the mayonnaise, crème fraîche, mustard, vinegar and celery salt (to taste).

Peal and clean the celeriac. I find it useful to cut into wedges, peel with a potato peeler, then take out the dark spots with a paring knife. Once finished, rinse with water to remove any of the hairy bits that stayed behind.

Next - shred, grate, or julianne the celeriac. We started out with julianne but was difficult to cut on my Mandoline - so we decided to grate. James was very helpful in this step. As I wasn't going to blanch the celeriac, I think the large setting on my cheese grater actually worked perfectly.

Once completed, mix the celeriac into the bowl, coating well with the sauce. If you find it a little too dry (depending on the size of your celeriac) - mix in another tablespoon or so of mayonnaise. Keep in mind that as it sits, the celeriac will absorb some of the moisture - so don't worry if it seems too moist. Refrigerate over night - it will taste so much better the next day once the flavors have time to meld and penetrate the celeriac. One thing I will say is that I used an Herbes de Provence Dijon mustard, and I really do think the herbs added such a nice touch. Just a subtle hint, not too overpowering. We were both completely impressed with the outcome: it was such a cool, refreshing, easy to make dish that will definitely become a staple in our Florida home.

From a nutritional standpoint, the celeriac is high in fiber, magnesium, potassium, thiamin, vitamin B6, and vitamin C.