Celery Root Remoulade (Céleri Rémoulade)

cerey root remoulade

I’ve never liked celery. To me, it’s like eating green water held together with a lot of stringy, indigestible fibers. Unless it’s filled with peanut butter or cream cheese, you can have it. The only time I ever buy a bunch is when I’m making stock, which is a shame, because I only just need a few stalks and usually the rest sits in my refrigerator until it wilts and dies and I have to throw it out. And I hate throwing food away. A lot of other people in France must feel the same way I do because at the markets, the vendors will gladly slice a bunch in half and sell you just part of one.

slicing celery root 2

Yes, I’ve seen those recipes for things like braised celery and boiled celery, which allegedly are the most wonderful ways to transform that ho-hum vegetable into something edible. I’ll have to take their word for it, because when I read through those recipes, no matter how excited the authors are about discovering a new way to prepare celery, the finished dish still sounds like it’s going to taste like rolled-up soggy newspaper. Until I’m proved wrong, for now I’ll stick with celery root, which is a whole ‘nother story.


I love celery root, which is also sometimes called celeriac. It has a woodsy, celery-like flavor, but is far more concentrated and less-watery than its above-ground cousin. It’s pretty easy to find gnarly roots at markets in France because they’re quite popular in it’s uncooked state, where people use them to make the classic céleri rémoulade.

slicing celery root celery remoulade

Some think that the French aren’t big on raw or crunchy vegetables—they don’t like undercooked green beans and I’ve often heard them refer to beans served still-crisp as “California-style”, but there’s the salade Niçoise, which traditionally should only be served with raw vegetables. And to stickers for authenticity, that means no boiled potatoes, either.

(Please don’t show them this.)

And outside of Nice, you’ll find grated raw celery root as part of a trilogy of salads on a popular starter, known as salade de crudités (raw salads), which generally includes salade de carottes râpées and perhaps some radishes with butter and salt. But it’s often just served on its own.

slicing celery root

I was going to tell you that you absolutely had to use homemade mayonnaise and that if you didn’t make your own mayo, you weren’t ever going to be part of the exclusive club that makes everything from scratch. However I was planning on cheating this time, but I was pressed for time (I know, excuses…excuses…) and was at the supermarket buying a tube of the stuff and ran into someone I know at the check-out line, whose name I foolishly called out to get her attention, noticed the tube in my basket.

Unfortunately, I can’t fib and tell you not to use it. But thinking about it, I’d venture to say the majority of Celery Rémoulade that’s consumed in France these days has store-bought mayonnaise in it. So it could be argued that using it makes a more authentic version, but I’m happy to be proved wrong.

(If you want to make your own, you can use this recipe for eggless mayonnaise or aïoli, omitting the herbs and garlic, respectively.)

celery root pieces kitchen grater

More important than the mayonnaise, you’ll want to use a grater that will make the celery root pieces roughly the size of thick wooden matches. If they’re too small, they’ll lose their crunch once dressed. In France, they have these wonderful Moulinex rotary hand graters which, unfortunately, aren’t available in the states. Sometimes you can find them on auction sites; they’re called a mouli-julienne.

Folks in the states keep asking me where they can get one* and I encourage all of you to start a letter writing campaign because my suitcase, when I head back to the states, is already too full of chocolates, macarons, and salted Breton butter to carry French vegetable graters. If you have a grating disk for your food processor or stand mixer, you can use the one with the largest holes. Or just grate or julienne the celery root by hand.

grated celery root

If you look at various recipes, you’ll see folks using as little as a timid 1 teaspoon of mustard, up to Julia Child’s version, which has a whopping 1/4 cup of the stuff. The French aren’t known for liking heavily spiced foods, but they love Dijon mustard. Since brands vary—some are extra-forte and others less-so, you can use as much, or as little as you like. Ketchup is still sneaking on the scene, and is no longer exclusively thought of as très Américain (as much as they’d like us to believe…), but it’s not going to replace the little pot of mustard on the table in cafés and bistros that serve traditional French fare.

celery root and roast chicken

Céleri rémoulade is generally not futzed with too much, which is fine with me. I don’t think everything needs to be ‘improved’ or fooled around with. However some people will add a bit of cornichons or chopped capers, and it’s become a bit au courant to add a julienne of Granny Smith apples to the mix. If you want to add some chopped parsley to it, you can. But add it as if it’s more of an afterthought than an ingredient. I often just add a flurry of chopped leaves over the top, and that’s that.

Celery Remoulade (Céleri Rémoulade)

About six servings

Celery root is pretty easy to prepare, but does discolor a bit once sliced open and grated. So make the dressing before slicing and grating the celery root, for best results. I like mine really mustardy, so I use a fairly large amount. If you’re unsure, start with less; you can add more, to taste, when the salad is finished.

To peel celery root, lop off the root and opposite end with a chef’s knife. Then stand the round root on a flat end then take the knife and cut downward, working around the outside, to slice off the tough skin. In the states, celery root are often smaller, and have more complicated roots, and you’ll need to cut a bit deeper to remove them.

  • 1 cup (240 g) mayonnaise, homemade or store-bought
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt, plus more, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/4 pounds (1 kg) celery root

1. Mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, 1 teaspoon of salt, lemon juice, and a few grinds of black pepper.

2. Peel the celery root and grate it coarsely.

3. Mix the dressing with the celery root and taste, adding additional salt, pepper, mustard, and lemon juice, to taste.

Note: If the salad is too thick, you can add a few spoonfuls of whole or low-fat milk to thin it out.

Storage: The salad will keep for one to two days in the refrigerator.

*A reader in the comments pointed out that a vendor on Amazon sells the Moulinex Mouli-Julienne, which seem to be out of stock. A few others commented that they liked the Presto Salad Shooter for grating raw vegetables, such as celery root, in thicker pieces. But I haven’t used one, so can’t personally advise.

Related Links and Recipes

How to Make French Vinaigrette

Celery Root Soup

Salade des Carottes Râpée

Potato Leek Soup

Aïoli

Julienne (Wikipedia)

Eggless Mayonnaise

Cabbagetown Hummus

Creamy Feta-Red Wine Salad Dressing

Celeri Rémoulande (Orangette)

Celery Root Salad (Simply Recipes)

Kohlrabi Remoulade (Nourish Me)


120 comments

  • David, I have tried making this salad twice and the second time I blanched the celeriac before dressing it. It was slightly less crunchy, but seemed more like the remoulades I have had in France before. Is blanching something that is commonly done?

  • As an American who grew up in Paris, I have always loved celery remoulade, but all my efforts to make it at home have been failures. I thought it was the texture: I tried marinating it in a bit of lemon and salt to soften, I tried parboiling, even simmering for a while. Nothing worked to make it come out that lovely crunchy-but-yet-soft way that it is in restaurants. Maybe I’m just grating it wrong. I’ll try a finer julienne.

  • Perdue’s use of “stalk” for “rib” is confusing at best. Can you imagine the results if an inexperienced cook followed a recipe calling for a chopped stalk of celery when the dish calls for a chopped rib? [Horrifying to a celery-loather like me.]

  • You speak the truth about what it’s like to eat celery. I’d no more munch out on the stuff than I’d eat a scoopful of flour. It’s what happens in the alchemy and heat of the kitchen that makes celery so valuable as a flavoring. Thanks for putting into words with such precision exactly what eating celery is like—and why you and I don’t do it!

    Cheers! Carol

  • Celery Root Remoulade looks great. We love celery root here in Turkey. It’s usually cooked with olive oil and served cold. Also we have a celery salad close to yours. All you need is a big, finely grated celery root (like the one you used), 1 or 2 minced garlic cloves, 2 or 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise, 2 or 3 tablespoons of plain or strained yogurt, some coarsely chopped walnuts, some black pepper and some finely chopped celery leaves. If you wish you can add some salt to taste. Mix all the ingredients well and enjoy your celery root salad. Especially with a fresh loaf of bread…
    Best Wishes
    Pinar

  • I purchased a mouli legumes (rotary grater) from amazon and it isn’t quite as promised
    although the box says ‘3 stainless steel cutters’ the pictures (both on the website and on the box) show 5 grates
    it does not ship with the largest size grater which is the one i purchased it for
    it cost $25 and they are only offering me a $5 if i send it back
    not so happy …
    miranda

    Hi Miranda: You likely bought it from a third-party vendor. If you have a problem, if the product isn’t as shown, you should contact Amazon as they are best suited to resolving customer issues and in my personal experience, they are pretty diligent about doing so. -dl

  • I like celery just fine, but I made my first celery root remoulade a few weeks ago and realized that there is a reason some dishes become classics.I had never eaten it before at all, now it will be a mainstay. I don’t think it suffers from use of good quality store mayo (I’m a big Hellmann’s fan myself).

  • Hi:)
    Just found your blog, by reading the magazine Maison ….

    Wrote about you on my blog…hope that´s oki?

    From Norway have a nice day – SP

  • Funny you should write about this. I had a craving the other day and hunted up Julia Child’s recipe. I think it’s even better the second day, though not as crunchy. Really enjoy reading your blog.

  • I am like you: I don’t care for celery itself, but I had celery root for the first time a couple years ago in France and I couldn’t believe how good it was. So, I am going to hunt for some root here and attempt your salad recipe. Thx.

  • Oh, oh, I live in the states and have a moulinex rotary hand grater, given to me by my grandmother who NEVER OPENED THE BOX, and I’ve been unwittingly making celery root remoulade with it for years not knowing I was part of an exclusive group of moulinex rotary hand grater owners in the US. I feel very special now, and ignored your mention of auction sites, so that I can feel even specialer, since I got one as a hand-me-down. AN UNUSED hand-me-down.

  • “like eating green water held together with a lot of stringy, indigestible fibers.”

    Can’t be more prefect! Green water, ew. Thanks for sharing a great recipe and expanding my hood horizon, once again. :)

  • Celery and peanut butter…. DAVID! Quelle horreur!!!

  • I made celery root remoulade and your fresh ginger cake from the new book today when my boyfriend’s mother stopped over for lunch. Both were a hit! Thanks for the ideas and recipes!

  • Celery is a very popular vegetable in Turkey. It is prepared in various ways and with various other ingredients, such as meat or chickpeas. If you don’t care too much for celery, maybe you should try this recipe, whch is my favorite:
    About a kilo or 2 pounds of root celery, peeled
    1 medium size onion
    1 medium size patato
    1 medium size carrot
    1 cup of fresh orange juice
    salt to taste
    Sautee the chopped onion with about 3 T of virgin olive oil in a pot. Add the other vegetables cut into 2-cm cubes and continue sauteeing a few minutes more. Add a cup of orange juice and salt. After it starts to boil cover the lid and let it cook for about 20 minutes or just until the vegetables are more or less softened. Can be eaten at room temperatur or cold.

  • Celeriac is a completely different vegetable from celery. They are members of the same family, but celeriac is not the root of the same celery that you buy in the supermarket. I’ve never heard it called celery root before, seems a bit confusing.

    Celeriac soup is quite wonderful, by the way.

  • This looks really good. I will never think of celeriac the same way again. Definitely going to pick some up and try this recipe soon.

    Thank you!

  • So, they sell them in France? Awhile back, I was looking for the moulinex food mill but couldn’t find any so I assumed they stopped making them. When you go to the UK Moulinex website, I couldn’t find them there either. There’s France Amazon, but since I’ve forgotten my high school French, I assumed it was saying in French that the product wasn’t available either.

    Now, that I have that figured out, the last hurrdle I have with celery root remoluade is celery root, or at least, knowing how to pick one out. To me, the crispy texture of the celery root is just as important, if not more, than the flavor. But, a lot of times, I end up with a celery root that’s all squishy. I have no idea how to differentiate what will be a cripsy celery root vs. a squishy celery root in the grocery store.

  • My partner and I have taken our bikes to France 3 x and cycled extensively in various regions, north and south in France, as well as Paris. Because we would always be buying our daily groceries at les épiceries, it didn’t take long for me to become addicted to my daily little carton of Céleri Rémoulade. I would often get the grated carrottes , located adjacent, but it was the celeriac, that I loved, loved, loved. A humble , simple food with a nice little sharpness to it, drenched in mayonnaise.

    I remember running into a grocery store with 10 minutes to buy some food, before we stuffed ourselves, our bikes, and our day bags onto the train at Monaco, headed for Montpelier, a few hours along the coast.

    We were lucky and had some privacy on the train, which enabled us to eat our selected goodies, including Céleri Rémoulade, with plastic forks, and a glass of wine, some nice cheese, a baguette etc, as the train headed south, and evening fell. ( We would normally not eat on the train, in front of others, but we had the seats that face each other, and it was quiet.)

    Once home, I managed to find an orange-coloured, plastic, hand-turned rotary grater mouli-julienne by Moulinex at a second hand store in Portland. But I have not easily been able to come across celeriac in my native Canada, nor do the grocers even know what it is. Quel dommage!

    Many “thank yous” David for your lovely blog, which brings happy memories of all kinds.

  • Just a little tip; when I have leftover celery sticks, usually the tough outer ones, I just pop them in the freezer (raw) “for stock”. Put them in the stock while still frozen, and they’ll release their juices within minutes, because the cell membranes will have been broken up by the freezing process.