Meatless Mondays: Celery Root Remoulade

With the proper treatment, this gnarly root vegetable makes an elegant first course.

(Photo: Ian Knauer)

Dec 15, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Ian Knauer is a regular contributor to TakePart. He has worked for Gourmet and is the author of the IACP Award–nominated cookbook The Farm.

Why meatless on Mondays? Not only is eating less animal protein a healthy diet choice, but curbing your meat consumption can have a significant environmental impact too. In 2006, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported that animal agriculture accounted for a full 19 percent of greenhouse gases—more than the transportation sector. Best of all, with recipes like these, going meatless can be a delicious weekly habit.

The celery root is a gnarly beast. Pick up one of the softball-size rounds, and you’ll notice its surface is pocked and scarred by months of slow-growing in the dirt. And that dirt has become a part of it. The fine roots at the bottom still grasp a silt too fine to brush away but too coarse to let go of. No amount of washing that will render it free of earth. This is a root that makes it hard to imagine any level of cuisine above peasant status.

There are other roots that seem to have lofty aspirations: the potato, with its silky cooked flesh. The Japanese turnip, with its perfectly round, snow-white sphere and crisp green shoots. These roots make sense on a celebratory, elevated holiday table. But the celery root? To make that thing worthy of your guests will take some doing.

Of course, the French figured out how to take a lowly root and magically peel and julienne it into a dish fit for kings. Once you realize what they’ve done, you see it’s not magic at all—it’s mayonnaise.

Celery root remoulade is a standard at my table this time of year. A lowly, dirty root, tamed with a knife and tossed with a super-flavorful mayonnaise with capers and herbs, becomes a starter that always raises eyebrows.

Celery Root Remoulade

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

2 pounds celery root
1/2 cup mayonnaise (homemade or store bought)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1/4 cup mixed herbs, such as chervil, parsley, celery leaves, or chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Trim the root end of the celery root. Peel the root with a vegetable peeler; then slice it very thinly (about one-eighth of an inch thick) using a slicer. Stack the slices; then cut them into long matchsticks.

Whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire, capers, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste; then stir in the celery root. Serve as a first course with salad greens.