turkish braised celery root salad with cucumber, dill, and capers

This recipe was inspired by a cooking demonstration I attended with chef Ana Sortum - owner and chef of three Middle Eastern restaurants near our apartment in Cambridge. She served braised celery root with quince, capers, dill and chopped egg. This recipe is inspired by her olive oil braising technique, which is common in Turkish cooking. Olive oil is blended with white wine in a saucepan over medium heat (or you can use a mix of stock and white wine vinegar if you don't have wine on hand). You essentially poach the root vegetable in the stock until cooked through. The flavor is delicate yet rich and delicious, and you can marry the root vegetable with fresh herbs and spices for a unique side dish or lighter weeknight entree. Pair this dish with the white wine that you use in the braising process; I would recommend a white wine with good acidity and medium body, or a rose if you prefer. 

 

  • Celery root (two whole) - here is a Bon Appetit cheat sheet on this unusual vegetable

  • Olive oil (1/2 cup for braising, plus 1 tablespoon for dressing)

  • White wine (1/2 cup for braising); or 1/4 cup water plus 1/4 cup white wine vinegar (if you don't use wine)

  • Red onion (1 small whole)

  • White cane sugar (1 tablespoon)

  • Apple cider vinegar (1 tablespoon)

  • Whole cucumber (1 whole)

  • Non-pareil capers (1/3 cup; small)

  • Fresh dill (1/2 cup chopped)

  • Sumac (1 teaspoon)

  • Smoked sea salt (or regular sea salt) (1 teaspoon)

  • Ground black pepper (1 teaspoon)

  • White wine vinegar (1 teaspoon)

  • Pine nuts (1/2 cup, toasted)

 

  1. Place the two celery roots on a large cutting board. With a large chef's knife, cut off the top and bottom of each root to provide a flat surface at the base. 

  2. With the knife, carve the thick skin off both roots. Start at the top of the root and slide the knife along the root to the base. Repeat this around the root until all skin is removed in pieces.

  3. Once the roots have had the skin removed, chop the roots into bite-sized cubes. Remove any large brown sections, which naturally occur in the roots.

  4. Place the cubes of celery root in a medium saucepan. Add 1/2 cup of olive oil and 1/2 cup of white wine to the saucepan. The liquid should reach about three-quarters of the way up the vegetable cubes. Add additional liquid if necessary in even proportions.

  5. Cook the celery root in the saucepan (covered with top) for about 20 minutes, or until tender and cooked through when you taste.

  6. When cooked, remove pan from heat, drain, and place celery root pieces in a dish to cool. This braising can be done a day in advance and celery root can be stored in Tupperware in the refrigerator. 

  7. Dice the red onion. Put in a small mixing bowl and add 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Use a small spoon or spatula to blend and set aside for at least 10 minutes. The sugar and vinegar are intended to slightly pickle the onion. 

  8. Cut the ends off the whole cucumber. With a vegetable peeler, peel off the outer dark green skin. Cut the skinned cucumber into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

  9. When ready to assemble the salad, place cooled celery root, cucumber, pickled red onion, capers, fresh dill, sumac, sea salt, and ground pepper in a large mixing bowl. With spatula, lightly blend, being careful not to mash the ingredients. 

  10. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar over salad and continue to mix until all ingredients are evenly coated.

  11. Top with toasted pine nuts and serve at room temperature for peak flavors.

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