The French can buy this classic winter salad from any corner shop, whereas we probably have to make it ourselves. It is the best use of the knobbly, ivory-coloured root yet devised.
Peel then shred a medium-sized (450g) celeriac. The shreds should not be too fine, nor should they be thicker than a matchstick. Toss them immediately in the juice of half a lemon. Mix together 4 heaped tbsp of good mayonnaise, 2 tbsp of smooth Dijon mustard, 2 tbsp of double cream or crème fraîche and 2 tbsp of chopped parsley. Season with salt and black pepper, then fold into the shredded celeriac. Set aside for 30 minutes then serve with thin slices of ham.
Toss the shredded roots quickly in lemon juice to stop them discolouring and to tenderise them. The dressing should be just thick enough to cling to the roots – in other words creamy without being soupy. Thin the sauce down with lemon juice if it gets too thick. Cream or crème fraîche sounds extravagant, but is essential if the salad is to be more than just roots in mayo. Don't attempt to keep it overnight. It will become soft and claggy as the celeriac soaks up the dressing. Chop the parsley finely – this is not the time for roughly chopped.
Beetroot remoulade has a more vibrant colour and a mixture of celeriac and beets is good, but should be lightly mixed so as not to turn the dressing raspberry pink. Poppy seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds make unorthodox but welcome additions, as do chopped toasted walnuts. A lighter dressing can be made using fromage frais instead of crème fraîche.
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