Alice Waters of California’s Chez Panisse prefers root celery (celeriac) to stalky celery because it is milder. It is in season now, and she uses it puréed in soup with fennel and Jerusalem artichokes. It is also, she adds, delicious as deep-fried batons or in a gratin.
Her celeriac salad and tips for serving are:
1 medium celery root
Juice of 1 lemon
3tbs Dijon mustard
4tbs homemade mayonnaise
Parsley, salt and pepper
Peel and cut the celeriac into large chunks (keeping it until needed in acidulated water so it does not go brown) and julienne to 1/8th-inch thick in food processor. In a bowl, dissolve a pinch of salt in lemon juice, grind in pepper and stir in mustard, mayonnaise and cream. Toss the drained and dried celeriac julienne in the mixture. Taste and correct seasoning. Let it stand for at least 15 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley. Serves two to four.
This is delicious with cold ham and salamis, as a base for cold oeufs mollets (whether hen or quail) or, as I had recently at Thackeray’s in Tunbridge Wells, under tea-smoked duck breast.