In this celery root salad with clementines, celeriac (or celery root) is cleverly blitzed in the food processor until minced so finely it could stand in for couscous. It’s then tossed with olive oil, clementine segments, toasted pumpkin seeds, olives, shallots, and parsley. And it’s vegan, although EVERYONE will be clamoring for more.
Unfamiliar with celery root? It’s “an aggressive-looking vegetable with a surprisingly gentle flavor,” to borrow the words of the author of this recipe, and we couldn’t agree more. Celery root is most commonly roasted or puréed or tossed into soups, but because we think conventional can be overrated, here it’s blitzed in a food processor until it’s tiny pieces that could be mistaken for couscous. Then it’s simply tossed with clementines, pumpkin seeds, and parsley. What results is surprising, sassy, and, we dare say, even sophisticated. See for yourself.–Renee Schettler Rossi
What does celery root taste like?
The sturdy root vegetable is sorta sweetly nutty and, not surprisingly, has a hint of celery to its taste. The flavor tends to sweeten slightly with cooking of any sort.
Celery Root Salad with Clementines
- 5 cups (27 oz) peeled and roughly chopped celery root, from 1 large celery root
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt plus more as needed
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 olive oil
- 1/3 cup raw unsalted pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup sliced green olives
- 1 packed cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 2 clementines segmented and cut into small chunks
- 1 small shallot finely chopped
- Place a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, toss in the pumpkin seeds and let them toast, tossing often, until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the pumpkin seeds to a plate and let them cool slightly.
- Add the green olives, parsley, clementines, shallot, and pumpkin seeds to the finely chopped celery root and toss. Taste and, if desired, add some salt.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
When I first read this recipe for celery root salad, I was perplexed as to where the grains were, but quickly realized the genius of using the celery root as the grain. I loved this dish and it’s perfect for a healthy lunch or side dish and works for anyone who is trying to avoid gluten.
You could easily add a poached egg for some protein or some feta cheese, toasted nuts, or roasted tofu. The possibilities are endless! I served it with roasted salmon and had it the next day for lunch with some feta cheese and chickpeas.
This celery root salad hits the sweet, salty, sour, and bitter notes with the combination of clementines, olives, lemons, and parsley and is wonderfully satisfying with the crunch of celery root and toasted pumpkin seeds. After resting in the lemon juice and olive oil, the celeriac took on a softer, more couscous-like texture.
Use your favorite high-quality green olives as they don’t take a back seat in this dish. Next time I make this, I’ll chop them into smaller pieces for a more balanced bite. I also might add a third clementine as the sweet citrus is quite lovely. This dish keeps beautifully in the refrigerator, though I would suggest adding the clementines right before serving.
I made the dish earlier in the afternoon and served it with the suggested chickpeas as a full meal. Adding a dash of finishing salt really bumps up the flavor profiles. Plant forward, flavor-forward, gluten-free, and vegetarian, and you won’t miss the meat one little bit.
This salad is totally delicious. I served it with chickpeas for the perfect lunch. I am fully on board with this celery root salad recipe even though, with the advent of vegetables standing in for starches, I’ve grown skeptical of all the copycat couscous recipes. But let celeriac take the spotlight it totally deserves.
Made fresh, the flavors stand on their own—the briny olives, the fresh parsley, the sharp shallots, and the irresistible clementines. However, as the salad sits, the olives and shallots take over. The texture doesn’t suffer much, but if you’re not planning on serving right away, tuck the clementines, olives, and shallots, and pumpkin seeds away separately for best results.
Finally, a reason to find out what the ugly-looking vegetable called celery root tastes like and how it is used! I have always wondered about that, but this was my first opportunity to try it—I love it! This celery root salad is delicious, healthy, easy, and different. It is also a perfect choice for serving vegan guests. The salty brine of green olives, the crunch of “pepitas,” and the sweet tartness of the clementines combined into a wonderful flavor profile.
Full disclosure: I like celeriac AKA celery root. I like it raw, I like it cooked, I like it mashed, I like it mixed with other vegetables. So I knew I was going to like this, too! When minced like this, it reminded me of cauliflower rice—fluffy and crunchy at the same time.
I tasted as I went along and kept thinking, “Hmmm…I’m not sure about this.” With just the lemon juice and salt, it was pretty astringent and after adding the oil it was too “oil forward.” The parsley certainly helped add a green note and the olives brought some brininess, but the addition of the clementines and the pumpkin seeds really transformed it to a crisp, bright, sunny little salad. It’s better the second day, but still pretty good right off the bat!
It would make a nice side to anything fried. I also added chickpeas and a tahini dressing and had it as a lunch salad. Delicious!
Originally published January 18, 2021