I like celeriac for its deep earthy flavor and pleasantly toothsome character. Apples seem made to go with it – the crunch and bright flavors are the perfect complement. This is a salad that is easy to expand upon. You can add ingredients to the salad itself, such as adding greens or raisins or nuts. Or, you can vary the dressings, using either a vinaigrette or a creamy dressing. This is one of those dishes where I prefer my Ben-Riner slicer (use the medium comb), but a food processor with a medium grater plate or a box grater (use the large holes) will work also.
Dressing:¼ cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon style mustard
1 tablespoon (or to taste) agave syrup, or other neutral flavored sweetener
½ tablespoon minced shallot
¼ teaspoon fresh minced thyme or a pinch dried thyme, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste
¾ cup mild flavored olive oil
-OR- (for a creamy version)
½ cup oil
¼ cup labne*, or sour cream, or very thick yogurt
Salad:1 medium-large (3 to 4 inches diameter) celeriac, peeled
2 firm apples, such as Braeburn, Bellflower, Pippin (the ones with the reddish hue to them are great!), Mutsu, peeled if the skin is thick
2 cups arugula, or a mix of arugula, mizuna and frisée
Put the vinegar into a large non-reactive bowl, and add the shallot, herbs, and salt and pepper, and stir to mix in. Add the mustard and agave syrup and whisk to thoroughly incorporate.
In a thin stream, steadily drizzle in the oil, whisking continuously to emulsify the dressing. Continue until all the oil is gone or the dressing will coat the back of a spoon.
For the creamy version, whisk in the oil, and then put the labne (or whatever you are using) into the bowl. Whisk until the labne is thoroughly incorporated into the dressing. You will have a mayonnaise-like consistency.
Taste the dressing for balance. If needed, add more agave syrup to hit the right sweet/sour balance, or salt and pepper. If the dressing is sweet enough, but still rather vinegary, whisk in more oil. If you are unsure of the balance, try dipping a sliver of celeriac into the dressing and tasting it.
Place a few ounces of dressing into a bowl large enough to hold all the celeriac and apple and swirl the bowl to coat with the dressing. You will put the shredded ingredients directly into the bowl to prevent then discoloring.
Using then middle comb in a Ben-Riner (or whatever implement you have), slice the celeriac into shreds into the bowl with the smaller amount of dressing, tossing the shreds to coat them.
When the celeriac is done, do the same with the apples. Toss gently to combine well, and add enough dressing to moisten the ingredients.
When ready to serve, fold in the greens gently, and add more dressing if needed. If not serving right away, store the celeriac/apple salad in the refrigerator without adding the greens until service.
Chef’s Notes and Tips:
- You can vary the greens, using mixed micro-greens or arugula sprouts such as those grown by New Natives, or you can use a variety peppery cresses as you might get from Four Sisters or T&L Coke.
- Try adding a 1/3 cup of sliced toasted almonds or toasted hazelnuts. Adding some raisins is nice also.
*Labne is a type of yogurt that has been strained so it is quite dense. It is sometimes sold as “yogurt cheese” or “Kefir cheese”. It is almost as thick as cream cheese, but it is not as sticky. I like for thickening dressings and cold creamy sauces, and it is a good dessert drizzled with a little honey, especially if you have some with outstanding flavors.
YIELD: Serves 4