Fennel and Celeriac Salad with Ouzo Mayonnaise

fennel_mayopA good cookery book must have reliable, clearly explained recipes, but, as I realised some time ago, I consider it excellent only when it inspires me, stirs my imagination and broadens my horizons. If, after leafing through its pages I decide to buy a vegetable/fruit/fish for the first time or cook a new meat cut or use a well known ingredient in an original way, it means my library has been enriched by a new jewel. Such was the case with Smashing Plates: Greek Flavours Redefined by Maria Elia, which, apart from being beautifully written and full of imaginative dishes with Greek and Cypriot roots, has convinced me to use fennel in my kitchen. This, believe me, is quite an achievement.

This salad, which is a modified version of Maria Elia’s Ouzo, Celeriac and Fennel Remoulade (and which could also be called slaw, I suppose), turned out simply excellent. The crunchiness and subtle freshness of fennel made me forget its overcooked, mushy form I had a “pleasure” to taste several times. The surprising presence of ouzo (Greek anis-flavoured alcohol), which gives this salad a sophisticated touch, has opened my eyes to a whole new world of boozy dressings and sauces. One more reason to love Maria Elia’s book. (You can use another similar anis flavoured alcohol (see the tips below).) In short, it was a perfect winter salad and and a very pleasant rediscovery of the fennel.

If you have never had Celeriac Remoulade, the French basis of this salad, you should try it. It might change your opinion about celeriac (it did mine):

Celeriac Remoulade (Céléri Remoulade)

Celeriac Remoulade (Céléri Remoulade)

or try my Japanese take on this French classic with daikon (white radish) used instead of celeriac:

Daikon Remoulade

Daikon Remoulade

TIPS: Carrot’s presence is my own invention (I simply didn’t have enough celeriac…), so you can use only celeriac.

If you don’t have ouzo, use French pastis or another anis seed – flavoured alcohol (though pastis for example might be a bit stronger than ouzo).

If you don’t want anis flavours to be too strong, skip the fennel seeds.

If you cannot find fresh dill, use for example fresh tarragon. Dried herbs are not suitable for this salad, in my opinion.

Preparation: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients (serves 2 as a side dish):

1 medium fennel bulb

1/2 small celeriac, peeled

1 medium carrot

1 – 2 teaspoons crushed fennel seeds (I used fennel “tea” bags)

2 heaped tablespoons mayonnaise (homemade or good quality product, not the snow-white tasteless stuff)

1 tablespoon ouzo

salt, pepper

fresh dill

a bit of lemon juice

Combine the mayonnaise with ouzo. Put aside.

Grate the carrot and the celeriac with a vegetable grater or julienne them.

Slice the fennel bulb finely or grate with a vegetable grater.

Combine the vegetables with the mayonnaise.

Season with salt, pepper, lemon juice, fennel seeds and dill.

Serve cold.

28 thoughts on “Fennel and Celeriac Salad with Ouzo Mayonnaise

  1. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles

    This salad does sound lovely Sissi but I have been a longtime fennel fan. We used to have fennel parties in nutrition school (foodie geeks) — we’d bring big chunky pieces to class and eat them like carrots — I guess I always thought of fresh chopped fennel as a sophisticated version of celery that actually has flavour! ;-). (In this part of the world, celery has about as much personality/flavour as a piece of cardboard). Now the ouzo is brilliant here with the mayo — love that idea and would absolutely try it as a dip with the fennel/celeriac or as you have it here in your delightful salad – an original expansion for me as well – thank you for this lovely recipe!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Kelly. Can you imagine I tasted fennel for the first time after the age of 30? (I don’t think I tasted celery before the age of 20… both are not very popular in certain European countries). I was surprised that fennel is so delicate. I remember you told me about tasteless celery: actually my fennel had more delicate taste than celery (but then my celery has quite a pronounced taste). Do try ouzo in a dressing! It was so delicious and intriguing… one feels there is something unusual, but it’s difficult to say what (the amount is so tiny).

  2. wok with ray

    You are absolutely right about quality of cookbooks — It has to inspire the cook. Love the colorful look of your salad as it goes well with that beautiful blue bowl that you used. Wishing you a wonderful week Sissi. :)

  3. Katerina

    Welcome to the world of ouzo my friend! Your salad looks and sounds pretty amazing! Congratulations on your new cookbook! I hope it will live up to your expectations!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Katerina. Until now I was a big fan of ouzo but…drunk. Now I how to double my stocks since I feel I’ll be using it in the kitchen quite often. The cookbook is amazing. I should have probably bought a traditional Greek cookery book before, but I was so tempted by this one, I couldn’t resist.

  4. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    From what you wrote, I can tell you really treasure your favorite cookbooks (and they must be an amazing cook/writer)! I’m trying to imagine how ouzo tastes like. I check the translator to see if I know any word, but it says in Katakana only! I hope to taste this one day! Thanks for introducing something new. :)

    1. Sissi Post author

      Hi, Nami. For me reading (good) cookery books is like travelling… so when I found a really fascinating one, I treasure it.
      Ouzo is anis-flavoured (as I have written above) and it’s quite strong as alcohol, but it’s drunk diluted with water (then it changes from transparent to milky). I love it! It’s quite easy to find here actually.

  5. Mr. Three-Cookies

    I had celeriac once and hated it. With much hesitation I had to throw it away. Would love to try celeriac remoulade, and this recipe. But small problem, other than medium carrot and salt/pepper, none of the other ingredients are on hand:)

    1. Sissi Post author

      Hi, Mr. Three-Cookies. I also hated celeriac before I tried it grated, raw, in remoulade. Before I used to have it cooked and frankly still find it awful when warm. You should give celeriac a last chance: it’s cheap, very healthy and if you don’t like it in the traditional remoulade, than there is no hope you will ever like it 😉

  6. mjskit

    What a gorgeous picture of a lovely salad Sissi! For people who love the liquorices flavors, this salad is a match made in heaven. I mean fennel, fennel seed and ouzo? What great flavors all in one dish! I’ve never had celeriac so I’m not sure how its flavor complements the others. I guess I’ll have give this a try. Great recipe!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, MJ. It’s for anis lovers indeed (though the taste is subtle… I would say liquorice flavours are much stronger). It’s so funny because celeriac is very popular in the countries where celery was a kind of “southern” novelty when I was a teenager 😉

  7. shuhan

    Love love love! This is one of the reasons why I enjoy your blog so much Sissi. You always start with a very traditional recipe as a basis, or two, and then add a twist to it using Asian ingredients or an Asian technique or sauce. Always such interesting results too! The colours in this look beautiful, and the flavours sound great together. I’m going tohave to give this one a try, along with the original recipe.

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Shuhan. This is THE salad of this winter for me: only seasonal, local winter vegetables and yet it’s not boring at all! (Ouzo makes is even more exciting 😉 ).

  8. Charles

    Gosh, raw fennel? I never tried it before. My father-in-law told me it’s a popular snack in the hot Tunisian summers (just peeling off leaves and eating them) because they feel it has a cooling property. This sounds like a lovely salad Sissi – even despite the amped up aniseed, hehe! 😀

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Charles. Raw fennel is a frequent ingredient in many mediterranean dishes, so to be frank even as someone who had never had it, I was rather surprised to see it cooked. It was awful every time I had it but maybe it was overcooked? Anyway, raw version is definitely better and so refreshing in the middle of the winter… (It’s actually in season now).

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