While a classic rémoulade sauce is mayonnaise combined with mustard, capers and a tiny dice of the small French pickles called cornichons, the French salad céleri rémoulade leaves out the capers and cornichons so that the mustard-mayonnaise dressing is smooth and white on shreds of equally white celery root, which is also called celeriac.
Celery root itself has very little flavor and a faint scent of stalks of celery so its dressing provides much of the salad's taste. The root oxidizes quickly which means it will darken once peeled, which takes away from much of the appeal of this all-white salad. To keep it white, either rub the surface of the peeled celery root with the cut side of a lemon. Alternatively, toss the shreds of peeled and julienned celery root with a teaspoon or so of lemon juice or some of the dressing. Either method will keep it white while you assemble the salad.
While homemade mayonnaise can make this dish particularly flavorful, a good store-bought mayo like Hellman's is absolutely fine to use.
It's best if the celery root is shredded into small pieces so that they can become softened by and combine with the dressing. The shredding disc of a food processor is a perfect tool to use to do this.
A large root will make about 3 cups of céleri rémoulade, which when scooped on a bed of Boston lettuce or spears of Belgian endive, serves 4 nicely as a first course.
1 large or 2 smaller heads of celery root
1/2 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade
2 to 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard or to taste
Optional: 1 to 2 tablespoons small capers, rinsed
Juice of 1/2 large lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
Tabasco or other hot sauce
- In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise with the mustard and if you're adding them, the capers and stir well to combine.
- Using a combination of a paring knife and a vegetable peeler, remove the bumpy, sandy outer surface of the celery root until the piece is entirely clean. Rub with some lemon juice so that it doesn't discolor.
- If you have the knife skills and patience, julienne the celery root by hand into long, thin pieces. Alternatively, cut the root into quarters and use the julienne disc of your food processor to entirely shred the pieces.
- Work in small batches and immediately coat the julienned strips with either a teaspoon of lemon juice or a spoonful of the rémoulade dressing to prevent oxidation.
- Combine all the julienned celery root with the dressing and toss to completely coat.
- Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt, mustard or hot sauce to your liking.
If you're not going to serve the salad immediately, keep it refrigerated until shortly before serving. For a decorative and subtle flavor touch you can snip some fresh chives on the salad just before serving.