When I was in culinary school, my favorite course was an introduction to French bistro cooking (though it was the source of most of my burns). Bistro cooking is fast, non-pretentious and heavily dependent on what’s readily available and cheap. Typically, there are no menus in a bistro. Rather, specials are scribbled on a chalkboard each morning, and most diners eat at the bar. It is sleeves-up, everyday food, yet it is so wonderfully French in its technique. This salad, for example is a riff off of celeri remoulade, a julienned celery root salad bound with mayonnaise and acid. Bistros will serve this along with a few other salads (like shredded carrot with lemon juice and Dijon mustard and shredded cabbage mascerated in boiled vinegar) all on one plate as a first course.
The beans add a shock of color and hearty texture to the salad. I prepared this dish to accompany steak with shallot and red wine sauce and oven-baked fries with parsley and garlic for a romantic steak dinner pour deux.
Celery root and haricots verts remoulade
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 pound celery root (celeriac), peeled and ends removed
1/2 pound haricots verts or other thin green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, divided
Method: Stir together mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
Square off the edges of the celery root until you have a rough box shape. Cut the box into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Then, cut the slices down into 2-inch long planks. Cut 1/4-inch-wide sticks from the planks. The end product should be roughly 2 inches long by ¼ inch thick.
Blanch the celery root sticks in a large pot of boiling salted water for about 1 minute. Scoop them out with a spider or slotted spoon and immerse them in a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Set them on paper towels to drain.
Drop the beans in the same pot of boiling water until they are tender but still firm, about 3 minutes. Remove them immediately and drop them in the ice water bath. Once cool, set them on paper towels to drain.
Toss beans and celery root with the dressing and half the parsley. Serve sprinkled with remaining parsley.