I made a meal today using only things that were in the house – a pantry dinner. Rifling through said panty – whose shelves are deep and stacked many layers deep – I knew there was bound to be a can (if not 2 or 10) of sardines. Sardines are great: tasty, convenient (when in a tin), cheap and one of the types of fish that is consistently on all the lists of “good” fish to eat, being neither over-fished nor filled with horrible pollutants. Much as I adore sardines, to my mind they require certain accompaniments: Something acidic (to balance their rich oiliness), something bright tasting (by which I guess I mean something of a fresh and vegetal nature, also to offset the rich oiliness), something crunchy (to offset the soft texture) and something starchy and neutral (to offset everything else). I usually like olives or pickles to take care of the acidic element, but as I had neither in the fridge – and since I was bound by what I had on hand – I set about making an astringent salad of celery root and apple. It was a riff on a recipe I saw today while leafing through Neue Cuisine, a cookbook by Austrian chef Kurt Gutenbrunner. Seemed a perfect way to prepare some of the cute little celery roots I had that were waiting to be used.
I did not par-boil them as his recipe said, but rather left them raw and let them sit in lemon juice for a few minutes to soften up a bit. Turns out it’s a winning combination, celery and apple. And with the addition of scallion and parley, it covered all the necessary bases as a perfect foil to sardines – crunchy, acidic and bright as a daisy. That, along with some steamed potatoes in their jacket with salt and parsley (the neutral element), and all was good.
Note: Quantities are variable, though I used fairly equal amounts of celery root and apple and the balance of textures was lovely.
Celery Root & Apple Salad (adapted from a recipe in Neue Cuisine) 2-3 servings
2 small celery root, peeled and diced small
juice of 1 small lemon
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 scallions, chopped fine
handful of flat parsley, chopped fine
salt and pepper to taste
1 apple, diced small (with peel, if desired)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Put diced celery root in a small bowl and add lemon juice and vinegar, toss to coat well. Let sit 10 minutes or more. Add remaining ingredients and toss well. Eat (sardines are optional).