Raw Celeriac Salad with Chickpeas and Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette
Today, in the spirit of the Winter Solstice, I leave you with a seasonal recipe to brighten up these shortest days of the year.
I love the texture and mild, slightly bitter, celery-like flavor of raw celeriac (celery root), and a rough julienne of it is how we begin. Plump chickpeas add body, and are mixed through with a lemon-heavy vinaigrette with fresh thyme, Dijon mustard and olive oil. An artisanal olive oil-washed, “extra-aged” Parmesan-style cheese from Wisconsin, SarVecchio is crumbly, crystalline and very flavorful. Together with toasted pine nuts, the two accentuate the earthiness of the celeriac, and are the perfect salty foils to cap everything off.
Basic, though it feels and looks kind of fancy. You can personalize it however you want with other seasonal veg and herbs, other beans, an alternative nut or seed, your favorite cheese, or different citrus. And there you have it — a nice little salad that’s refreshing and nourishing to brighten your day!
What’s in it for me?
Celeriac or celery root is an ugly duckling to be certain. Beneath a thick layer of knobbly, hairy skin, the white flesh of this root vegetable (a cousin to celery) is dense and firm like a potato, and tastes of celery and parsley. You might be familiar with the mayonnaise-based céleri rémoulade popular in France, or may have encountered celeriac in a soup or mashed. One cup (raw) is an excellent source of vitamins C and K, a good source of phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B6 and manganese, and provides more than 10% of your daily fiber needs for less than 70 calories.
SarVecchio, like other mature (aged) hard cheeses, has a lower overall percentage of lactose, and is a rich source of gut-friendly, immune-supporting probiotics, plus polymines — proteins linked to improved health of eggs in women and sperm in men. SarVecchio offers more than 30% of the recommended daily calcium per 1 ounce, as well as 9 grams protein and just over 100 calories.
For only 82 calories and 2 grams fat, a 1/2-cup serving of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) provides nearly 8 grams of protein, 25% of your DV for fiber, more than 1/3 of your folate, and more than 40% that of manganese — a trace mineral important for bone health, blood sugar regulation, and normal function of the brain and nerves. Chickpeas also contain fair amounts of iron, copper, and zinc. (Learn more about bean nutrition + how to cook yours from scratch.)
Harvested from the cones of several pine tree varieties, pine nuts are soft with a delicate flavor. Pine nuts are among the richest nuts — 188 calories in 1 ounce (approximately 167 nuts). The creamy-white pine nuts are good sources of vitamins E and K, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and copper, and offer about 4 grams protein per serving, plus another nearly 125% of your daily manganese. Though the amount of total fat is 19 grams per serving, more than 3/4 are the healthier unsaturated fats. These unsaturated fats, plus those from the extra virgin olive oil, act together with the protein in this salad to provide energy, stabilize blood sugar levels, and also to satisfy + satiate.
All at once light and rich. A range of flavors and textures. Whether for lunch or supper, taken as the main course or the start to a meal, this winter salad is a pleasant departure from the usual mixture of greens. Enjoy!
Tell me… Do you like to eat salads in winter? What kinds?
- 2 small or 1 large celeriac/celery root (to weigh about 1 lb total), peeled, cut in half
- 1 large lemon, cut in half, divided + 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, picked from the stem (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas (see HGN Notes)
- 1/4 cup rough small chunks of SarVecchio or other hard grating cheese
- 2 heaping Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
- Turn one celeriac half on its end (cut off a portion to make a flat, stable surface, if needed), and use a large, sharp knife to make very thin slices. Stack 2 or 3 of these slices on top of one another, then cut very thin slices across to create the (julienne) matchstick pieces. Continue to julienne the rest of this first half, then transfer the matchsticks to a bowl. Squeeze over 1/2 of the lemon, then toss to keep the celeriac from turning brown. Repeat the same process with the other half, and add the matchsticks to the bowl and toss, adding whatever juice remains in that first lemon half. (Alternatively, you can use a mandoline or peeler with julienne capabilities. A coarse shredder attachment on a food processor would make quick work of this, but the salad will have much less structure and less crunch.)
- Whisk the juice from the remaining lemon half (about 1 Tbsp) with the olive oil and Dijon. Whisk in the thyme leaves. Taste, and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Toss with the celeriac and chickpeas.
- Transfer the salad at this point to a large serving platter, or divide among 2 entree or 4 salad plates. Top with the cheese chunks and toasted pine nuts. The salad may be prepared and refrigerated up to 1 hour in advance of serving.
+ Swap orange, lime or grapefruit juice and zest for the lemon.
+ Try a different herb in place of the thyme -- oregano, basil, mint or tarragon would be great.
+ Trade chickpeas for white (cannellini) beans or another favorite bean of your choosing.
+ Use chopped, toasted almonds, pistachios or hazelnuts instead of pine nuts.
+ Substitute a similar hard cheese for the SarVecchio, such as Pecorino, Manchego, Asiago, Parmigiano-Reggiano, or go in a different direction with crumbles of chevre, feta, or a tangy blue cheese.
+ Make it vegan by eliminating the cheese altogether.
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