At the start of every new year, trend analysts love to come out with their predictions for what will be "hot" in the upcoming year. This year, the news on restaurant trends is heartening for those of us who work to promote a healthier vision of our nation's food system. According to the National Restaurant Association's survey of 1,800 professional chefs, increased focus on local foods and beverages top the list of "What's Hot in 2012." This means that, along with all of us making our weekly trek to the farmer's market or to pick up our CSA (community-supported agriculture) shares, restaurants will be helping to support local family farms, rather big agriculture. That's certain to be a boon to farmers' bottom line, and (maybe more exciting) it means that consumer interest in local is growing ever greater!
For all of you trying to make your home diet more seasonal and local, here's an excellent winter recipe from the fabulous Andrea Chesman, whose book Recipes from the Root Cellar includes more than 250 recipes designed for winter vegetables, from soup and salad to main dishes and dessert. If you enjoy the recipe below, order the book here!
Celery Root, Apple, and Walnut Salad Serves 6 to 8
This dish has the same blend of flavors as a Waldorf salad, with the advantage of being made with a root vegetable that stores well. The apples for this salad can be whatever you have on hand, although Cortlands do particularly well in salads because they are slow to brown. The blanching step is optional, but I prefer it; I think it improves the flavor and mouthfeel of celery root.
1 celery root, peeled and shredded
2 to 3 large apples, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
1 cup walnuts, toasted
1 tablespoon lemon juice, or more to taste
1 teaspoon sugar, or more to taste
1/3 cup mayonnaise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the celery root and cook for 1 minute. Drain well and rinse under cold running water until cool.
2. Combine the celery root, apples, and walnuts in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and sugar. Add the mayonnaise and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Let stand for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Taste and add more lemon juice, sugar, salt, and pepper as needed, and serve. You can hold the salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours before serving.
Kitchen Note: To toast walnuts, heat a large dry skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts and toast, stirring frequently, until fragrant and lightly colored, about 5 minutes.