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Now Eat This!: Rooting for celery

A salad smoked salmcelery root apples is delicious way ease infall. | Matthew Mead~AP

A salad of smoked salmon, celery root and apples is a delicious way to ease into fall. | Matthew Mead~AP

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• If smoked flavors don’t do it for you, use gravlax instead of smoked salmon. Gravlax is salmon that has been cured (usually in salt, sugar and sometimes dill), then thinly sliced. The texture and flavor are similar to smoked salmon, minus the smoky flavor.

• Be sure to trim off most of the stem portion of the watercress; it tends to be tough.

Updated: November 10, 2011 10:17AM

I love anything that tastes like celery, including celery root.

Which sounds like it’s the root of the green stalks most people are familiar with. Except it isn’t. Celery root is from the celeriac plant, a relative of celery that is grown exclusively for its root. They taste similar, though celery root is a little nuttier. Both plants evolved from a wild celery native to Mediterranean marshlands.

But while they may taste alike, you’ll never confuse celery for celery root in the store. Celery root is gnarly, knobby and quite frankly unattractive. But peel away the tough outer skin and that ugliness gives way to a fresh taste that can add flavor to everything from salads to stews. Celery root also is packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium and phosphorus.

In this recipe for smoked salmon salad, I’ve matched celery root with apples for a delicious low-calorie main dish salad that will make your often-tortured bathroom scale give thanks.

Salmon is good and good for you. It’s naturally tender, easy to digest, low in bad fats and cholesterol, and loaded with beneficial nutrients and oils. The salmon here also is quick to fix — all you have to do is open a package — and dress it with a delicious yogurt sauce.

Apples are a star here, too. Autumn’s apples, if not eaten out of hand, most often are enjoyed in pies, crisps or tarts. But the versatile apple also is excellent in savory dishes. In the fall, I especially like to feature them in creatively constructed salads, where they offer a tart sweetness and a pleasant crunch.

I love serving salad as a main course, or even as a full meal by itself. It can be faster to make than a regular cooked meal, requires no accompaniment other than maybe some bread, and can prepped a day or more in advance. This main meal salad couldn’t be easier to prepare.

Serve it up and watch it — and your waistline — disappear. Traditional versions of this salad can pack 712 calories and 37 grams of fat. But my version has just 5 grams of fat and 187 calories.


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