The first time I made endive spears with celery root remoulade, I had just come home from a long working date with an incredible female creative professional. I was ravenous; my mind was conjuring up images of grilled cheese toasts and bowls of steaming pasta. But my brain was saying no, I had to eat something a healthier.
Seeking to preserve the luxurious feel of comfort food and make my dinner into a true celebration, I made these endive spears with celery root remoulade. Studded with jewelled dried cranberries and pepitas, and covered in a beautiful, tangy mayonnaise-mustard sauce, these endive spears would make a great appetizer for a party – or help make any ol’ dinner into a special occasion.
My first introduction to celery root came out of necessity. Seeking to make a healthy, special Easter dinner in Kitchener this year (you may remember my Passover celebration attempts from the same place), I turned to the farmer’s market to set the course for the menu. Sadly, early spring produce is a less-than-exciting affair in Canada; while the rest of North America and Europe was already feasting on fiddleheads and strawberries, we were just beginning to see endive spears and celery roots being dug out.
So I went home with a large head of celery root, unsure where to even start tackling this scraggly monstrosity. But after a few minutes of quick work with a sharp knife, I reduced it to a manageable, white heart. A large pot, some almond milk and a good douse of coconut oil, and we were well on our way for a delicious celery root puree dinner.
Though I was sold on celery root then, I wanted to taste it in other ways. Like the versatile potato, I knew there was no way this root vegetable was a one trick pony.
That’s when celery root remoulade came into my life. I first tried it nestled into endive spears at an agricultural products showcase in Montreal earlier this year, a classic Belgian recipe interpreted by a Northern Quebec chef. The chef and I got to talking (en francais!), and I became intrigued by the variety of possibilities presented by the joining of these beautiful, bitter, pale lettuce and the unassuming celery root.
The combination of the cold beauty of the endive spears with the thin strands of celery root was a true winner. The sharp flavour of the celery root remoulade, the bite of mustard and endive and the great texture all won me over, but I knew I wanted to add a burst of sweetness to my version.
A few experiments later, and these endive spears with cranberry-and-pepita-studded celery root remoulade were born. They make a great appetizer for a cocktail party, which are often sorely lacking in gluten-free and paleo options. They would not be remiss at any large dinner, as a starter alongside some good cheese and stuffed mushrooms. And if you are short on time, you can mix your endive spears into the celery root remoulade and serve the whole thing as a fancy salad.
Any way you choose to spin it, endive spears with celery root remoulade are the bomb.
Endive spears with celery root remoulade, cranberries and pepitas
- 1 medium-sized celery root grated or cut thinly on a mandoline
- 2 TBs homemade mayonnaise vegan mayonnaise, or your favourite brand
- 1 TB high-quality grainy Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 2 TBs pepitas pumpkin seeds + more for scattering later
- Splash of white wine vinegar
- Salt + pepper
- 1 lb endive spears
Mix all the ingredients but the endive spears together. Let celery root remoulade marinade for at least 30 minutes. Separate endive spears into separate leaves, and ladle a teaspoon of the celery root remoulade inside each leaf.
Arrange leaves on a large platter, scatter more pepitas and dried cranberries on top, and serve. For a more casual affair, you can even serve the endive leaves and remoulade together and let people do their own scooping.
Separated, the celery root remoulade will keep in the fridge for a week, and the endive spears even longer.