I know I may be jumping the gun a bit by posting a “Winter” recipe as it seems Summer has just recently said its final goodbye. But as the wind currently wisps outside my windows and the rain pelts down on the fragile jewel-toned foliage I just know the trees that were barely clinging to their few remaining leaves will be skinny skeleton limbs in the morning.

Also, I just couldn’t wait to tell you about it.

Winter is not often highly regarded for its salads. All that is about to change.


Julienned fennel, celeriac and apple are lightly coated in a tangy homemade Creme Fraiche dressing. Piled high on plate, one invisions the hopeful thought of white snow in the months ahead, as their fork lunges into the crisp salad. This welcomed change of taste is a far cry from the usual roasted, braised and baked dishes that accompany the chilled Winter.

I must give credit for this ingenious dish to Mataio, chef and owner of Ciao Thyme Catering. You may recognize this company from such weddings as Molly and Brandon’s. It is also known as my former place of employment before we made the move to Seattle.

I say former but on occasion they let me back in to teach and play in their gorgeous kitchen filled with the colors of Tuscany – it is always a joy to return. The food that emerges from that place is beyond fantastic. It is inventive, mostly local and filled with more passion that I’ve ever seen presented on a plate.

Jessica and Mataio, owners of Ciao Thyme catering are currently spending the month of November traveling in Italy – I am more than a bit envious. The driving force behind this trip is to seek new tastes, new dishes and a renewed purpose and love for the food they create. The lessons learned from this trip will fuel the creativity needed to inspire the menus that are never repeated. I will be the first one lined up at the door of Ciao Thyme upon their arrival home, waiting for the Italian inspired dishes to emerge.

Winter White Salad
Serves 4 as a side salad

Celeriac, also know as celery root, is the unsung hero of this dish. The flavor is similar to that of celery but with more spice and none of the obnoxious strings. It crunches like a carrot and yields an aromatic fragrance that will leave you wondering why you’ve never taken note of it before. You’ll have to get beyond the warty and hard to peel exterior but once you do you will be rewarded with a unique flavor and a crisp crunch that we so long for in the cold Winter months ahead.

1 apple – I used a tart Pink Lady and loved the flavor it added.
1 Fennel bulb
about 1/4 of Celeriac, peeled
1 small Leek

Using a Mandolin with the matchstick blade carefully slice the apple, fennel and Celeriac. Each item should yield about 1 1/2 – 2 cups once cut. You can play with the quantity of each depending on your flavor preference. Keep all the sliced produce in a bowl of cold water with a touch of lemon juice to keep them from browning. When ready to dress the salad make sure you completely drain the matchsticks.
Thinly slice just the white part of the leek. Separate the rings.
Make the dressing.


Creme Fraiche Dressing

Making your own Creme Fraiche is an easy and rewarding experience. Here is my version which yields a thick tangy cream that you will often find a stash of in our fridge.
1 cup Heavy Cream (I microwaved it for 20 seconds to take off the chill and to speed up the process) add 1 tablespoon lemon juice to the cream. Stir. Let this mixture sit out for several hours until thick. At that point it can be refrigerated and kept covered for a couple of days.

1/4 cup Creme Fraiche
2 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together.

Lightly coat the fennel, celeriac and apple with the dressing. Garnish with the leek rings and small parsley leaves. Serve immediately.

*As a side note I will be teaching a class in Bellingham, WA at Ciao Thyme. It is a Holiday Baking course covering some fundamental baking techniques like caramel, meringues and pie crust. I would LOVE to see some of you there – in fact I’d LOVE to see ALL of you! Check out their website for more details.


18 Responses to “Winter White Salad”

  1. Kim (@ Paper Apron)

    I can feel the texture on my tongue and the crunch in my mouth. This sounds wintry and wonderful and I’m okay with that. I can almost hear the ringing of tiny holiday bells as I read this. I’m a huge fan of fennel, but I’ve never dared to carve into a celeriac. But I don’t know why not. It doesn’t look intimidating. And the combination of fennel, leek, apple, creme fraiche and apple cider vinegar sounds like a symphony– like Mozart himself would’ve thought this up had he been a cook.

  2. nina

    Celeriac is not commonly found around here, but from time to time I am lucky to find some…..Will keep this one for winter coming!!!

  3. Sian

    I adore winter root salads, and raw celeriac, so this looks right up my street! You’ve photographed it beautifully too, I wouldn’t have thought it was a particularly easy dish to do so with.

  4. Jennifer

    I have been craving a mandolin — and this will be the recipe that drives me to finally get one. This salad looks delightful…. and we in Seattle need delight when were short on light. 🙂

  5. Connie

    Love the flavor elements here. And the photos are really good, the food styling and camera work is done so well (which is so much harder than I ever imagined).

    Just a question about the creme fraiche: does it matter how pasteurized the heavy cream is?

  6. Sara

    wow, the menu at Molly and Brandon’s wedding, insane. What a great opportunity to be able to work with such passionate people. The salad looks so perfect.

  7. candice

    Just the title of this recipe makes me happy. I love how it is the complete opposite of the usual veggies I eat during winter–super crrrunchy as opposed to soft from steaming/roasting/boiling! Thank you for this.

  8. alana

    Oddly enough, I have all of the ingredients for this one… I only hope mine will be as lovely as yours. Can’t wait to try.

  9. Sam

    Lovely salad recipe, I never knew what to make with Celeriac!

    I just came a cross a celeriac Soup in this new magazine Poetry of Food,, It is in their Recipe Memoirs section. I made it two nights ago and it was a hit. I seem to be addicted lately to reading about food, and this magazine feeds the soul and the eyes!!


  10. Ali

    I’m not a big commenter, but this is the third winter I’ve made this salad and I absolutely love it so I had to let you know. So mild, sweet, fresh, and crunchy. One of the best recipes from the blogosphere I’ve ever tried. THANK YOU!


Post a Comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>