|celeriac winter salad|
But when I woke up I had that sinking sense of something important is supposed to be happening and I can’t remember what it is, accompanied by a heart-in-mouth feeling. I looked at my clock, blanched, leapt out of bed and hurtled to the kitchen in my jammies to wrestle a very large bird from fridge to oven, without any of the usual niceties.
You see I had Sunday lunch guests arriving in less than two hours and the chicken wasn’t even at room temperature, let alone lovingly massaged with masses of herb butter and soothed in a gentle bath of lemon juice. Yikes! Normally I am up early on Sundays as I really enjoy cooking a big lunch. Everything is prepped and ready to go so that I can enjoy my cooking and chill out at the same time. I can delude myself that this is effortless entertaining, that I am as soignée as some kind of 1930s hostess in her silk lounging pyjamas, knocking back the Dubonnet. (A girl can dream). Instead, I am flapping around in winceyette, glugging builders' tea like my life depended on it.
So the chicken was unceremoniously shoved in the oven, while I prepped the spuds for the roasties. All my other plans for a carrot purée, roasted parsnips and celeriac gratin, went out the window. I was out of time. Instead I made a sort of celeriac rémoulade-coleslaw using the root vegetables. I adore celeriac, as I am sure you know, and grated in a salad allows you the full benefit of its peppery celery flavour, which combined with a creamy, tangy mustard dressing is a marriage made in heaven. Carrots and red cabbage added to the crunch factor and a very pretty colour. So out of adversity (well my laziness) comes something simple but delicious.
By the way, don't make this too far in advance - it is much better made about one hour before serving. Although to contradict myself, it survived overnight in the fridge and was fabulous the next day in a ham sandwich with added gherkins and capers.
Serves 4 (as a side dish)
Skill level: Easy
1 x small celeriac (about 500g)
1-2 x carrots
½ x small red cabbage (about 200g)
about 1 tbsp x red onion (optional), very finely chopped
juice of ½ lemon or a splash of sherry or cider vinegar
3 tbsp good quality mayonnaise, (Shop bought is fine - I often use either Hellman's or Sainsbury's French Mayonnaise!)
1 tbsp crème fraîche, sour cream or natural yoghurt
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Peel then grate the celeriac - no thicker than a matchstick. (I used an old-fashioned grater, but you could use a mandolin or a food processor). Toss the shredded celeriac with the lemon juice or vinegar immediately. This both adds to the flavour as well as keeping the celeriac from discolouring.
- Grate the carrots and finely shred the cabbage and add to the celeriac. I like to add about 1 tablespoon of very finely chopped red onion too.
- Beat together the mayonnaise, crème fraîche and mustard. Check the seasoning.
- Toss the grated vegetables with the dressing until they are lightly coated but not overwhelmed.
- Use English or Dijon mustard rather than wholegrain mustard.
- Add a little chopped parsley for colour.
- Give it more of a tartare sauce vibe with chopped capers and gherkins. It is fabulous with ham in a sandwich.
- Add a little grated beetroot just before serving. (Don’t add to early as the beetroot juice will turn the whole salad an ice-cream pink colour!)
- Next time I might add some grated kolrabi.
- Add a few toasted, chopped hazelnuts or walnuts.
- Leftovers will last about 1 day in the fridge - great for a lunchbox salad.