Saturday, March 13, 2010

No preamble

No long winded-story today, just a quick introduction and a recipe...

The non-winter we've been having over here has got my brain all addled, and I have found myself craving raw and cold dishes. Like this root slaw: It's nothing revolutionary, just an alternate take on a French classic, the céleri rémoulade- shredded celeriac in a lemony dijon dressing.

Any root vegetable will do, but I tend towards a mix of beets, carrots and celery root. If there are beet-nay-sayers in your entourage, a slaw might win them over: the tangy dressing cuts down on excess sweetness, and the crunchiness is downright fun.

I love raisins in my carrot salad, but for some reason these rarely go over very well. Dried cranberries, on the other hand, seem to be well-liked by everyone.

Here are a few important tips to succeed at this salad. First of all, if you are using celeriac, it is important that you generously coat the shreds in dressing: celery root will turn brown if it is not first treated to an acidic bath.  Which is why the vinaigrette does not follow the usual two-to-one ratio of oil and vinegar. Secondly, this salad, like most slaws, is best prepared in advance: anywhere from an hour to 3 or more days (no joking! I like it best when it is about 5 days old, it then becomes a pickle salad!) Thirdly, if you are using beets, do not toss the entire salad ahead of time, unless you want to serve an all-red slaw. Lastly, this is the time to break out the mandoline, if you have one. If you don't, honing your knife skills on a fine julienne will result in a prettier salad, but using a grater (or a food processor if you own one) will be quicker and less exhausting: use the largest holes on your grater, or the smallest grid on the processor.

Root Vegetable Slaw
serves 4, easily

1 medium celeriac
3 medium carrots
2 medium beets
½ cup/ 125ml white wine or rice vinegar, lemon juice, or a combination thereof
½ cup/ 125ml vegetable, sesame, hazelnut, walnut, or olive oil -if you are using a flavourful oil like the sesame or nut, cut with a more neutral oil, or the dressing will be cloying 
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
¼ cup/ 90g dried cranberries, optional

-Prepare the dressing by mixing the vinegar and mustard. Season to taste with salt and pepper. When everything is well blended, gradually add the oil while whisking with a fork or small whisk. If the dressing splits, it is not a problem, you're not looking for a mayonnaise.
-Trim top and tail of vegetables, and peel.
-Start by shredding the celeriac. 
The easiest way to peel a celeriac is to place flat on a cutting board once it has been topped and tailed, then use your chef's knife (or your largest and sharpest knife) and to slice off the peel while following the curve of the root. You should obtain a creamy white ball that is considerably smaller than the original root.
When that is done, mix into the dressing, making sure every shred is well coated. 
-Shred the carrots next, and combine with the celery root. 
-Shred the beet last. Mix in the cranberries, if using.
Place at the bottom of another bowl, and dump the shredded carrots and celeriac on top. 
-Cover, and leave to rest in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

Absolute bliss!

Really not a fan of beets or celeriac? Just the carrots with the cranberries make a pretty salad. Add some chopped, toasted almonds and you have lunch.

If you are a fan of beets, you may have noticed that this year's pickings are rather small (in Eastern Canada and North-Eastern US, anyway) compared to previous years: the excessively rainy summer of '09 hindered the roots' growth, which is why there is such and abundance of tiny beets. Interestingly, rutabagas do not seem to have been too affected by the rain -I've seen my fair share of 5 pounders this year!


Bon app'!

2 comments:

  1. I haven't had this vegetable since I left France years ago! I miss it, oddly enough. Thanks for a recipe that will allow me to relive these happy moments in La belle France.

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