celeriac, fennel, and avocado salad
Celery root makes no claim to beauty. It is a knurled, knobby, usually dirty, dull, brown root also called celeriac. Peeled, grated, and dressed, however, celeriac presents well. The inspiration for the salad was a picture in La Cucina Italiana. Don’t think I even bothered to follow the recipe, just started with the root and worked out the proportions from there. Using the fennel was an afterthought, but a good one since it adds a hint of licorice and a characteristic crunch. I make this salad a lot during the fall and early winter when celery root is available at the GreenMarket here in New York. Making a salad does not require the same precise measurement as baking a cake, but knowing the weights is useful for shopping, developing a ratio, or expanding the recipe to serve a crowd. Look for a medium celery root about 1 pound or 450 grams and a fennel bulb about ⅔ pound or 300 grams. Proportions listed below make about 1 ¼ liter or about 5 cups.
1 celery root, about 5 cups grated or 300 grams
½ fennel bulb, finely sliced, about ¾ cup or 100 grams
haas avocado, 1 whole or about 240 grams as purchased
extra virgin olive oil, 4 tablespoons or 60ml
lemons , 1 to 2 depending on taste
3 scallions, trimmed & chopped, about ½ cup or 50 grams
fresh parsley, chopped, ¼ cup or 15 grams
Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon or 15 grams
flake style salt , ¼ teaspoon or 700 mg
Assemble all ingredients except avocado. Wash celeriac, fennel, scallions, and parsley. Trim and thinly slice fennel. Trim and chop scallions and parsley. Juice one lemon. And finally peel and grate the celeriac. Celery root oxidizes quickly; the acid of the lemon juice protects against oxidation retaining the root’s creamy white color. Put the grated root in a large bowl and stir in a couple tablespoons lemon juice. Add fennel, olive oil, scallions, parsley, mustard, salt, and stir well. Add the rest of the lemon juice to taste and adjust seasoning. Not everyone likes the same level of acidity and not all lemons are created acid equal, so it is important to taste at this step and to know the preferences of the eaters at your table. Use the second lemon if needed. Transfer to storage container and hold in refrigerator. About half an hour before serving, remove salad and transfer to serving dish. Cut avocado in half, remove seed, peel, and cut in wedges. Make a border around the parameter of the serving dish using the avocado. Serve the salad at room temperature or slightly chilled.
Calories are the best food metric to manage portion size. Most people use common sense. Divide the salad into 4 parts and one serving provides 240 calories. Divide it into 6 parts and one serving provides 160 calories. Others prefer common measure. Analysts like me prefer calories per gram. That number lets you calculate any serving weight required as well as the calorie density of the item in question. This salad worked out to be 126 calories per 100 grams. Less than a baked potato at 193 calories per 100 grams but more that steamed broccoli at 28 calories per 100 grams. Why? Because this salad is not low fat. Olive oil and avocado, however, are over 80% unsaturated and considered to be the healthy kind of fat. The analysis below is for 6 servings:
Per Serving (126 g each): Calories 160, Fat 14g, Saturated Fat 2.0g, Sodium 140mg, Carbohydrate 10g, Fiber 4g, Protein 2g. Vitamin A 8%, Vitamin C 25%, Calcium 4%, Iron 6%.