Baby Spinach, Celery Root, and Fuji Apple Salad with Creamy Pistachio Dressing (aka Aarti's "The Ugly Duckling Salad")

Baby Spinach, Celery Root, and Fuji Apple Salad w/Creamy Pistachio Dressing

This salad is another Aarti Sequeira masterpiece. She calls it The Ugly Duckling Salad because of the celery root component which is sort of the "ugly duckling" of the vegetable world. It's gnarly and unattractive on the outside, but inside lies a beautiful, creamy and healthy vegetable.

I've long been a fan of celery root, which is what first attracted me to this recipe. Celery root makes a great potato substitute because it has a much lower glycemic index, and it's much lower in carbs and calories - steam it and make mashed "potatoes", thinly slice it to make a "potato" gratin, and the list goes on. For some reason, I hadn't tried it raw, though. I discovered it's delicious raw - mild in flavor and it added an almost creamy texture to the salad.

Incidentally, "celery" is not the same thing as "celery root". They are related but not the same. Celery root is a separate vegetable and is grown solely for its root ball.

pistachios, garlic, baby spinach, celery root
lemon, fuji apple and Sriracha sauce

Ok, let's talk about this dressing for a minute. This stuff is so good, I could drink it. It's creamy, citrusy, garlicky and most importantly, pistachio-y. Baby spinach has never tasted so good to me as it did in this salad. The dressing almost reminded me of a Caesar dressing infused with pistachio, only there's no parmesan, egg, or anchovy in this dressing. Regardless, it's delicious!

Serves 4

1/2 cup shelled pistachios
2 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (you can use the Huy Fong brand sold in most supermarkets or make your own: Homemade Sriracha Sauce)
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup canola oil, plus more if necessary
Kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper
splash of extra-virgin olive oil (instead I used my La Tourangelle Pistachio Oil)

In skillet over medium heat, toast pistachios until lightly browned.

In blender or food processor, place toasted pistachios, garlic, lemon juice, Sriracha sauce, water, and oil, then blend till smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. If too watery, add more canola oil and blend to emulsify. Add drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and blend once more. Set aside.

1 bag baby spinach, pre-washed
1 Fuji apple, thinly sliced
1 celery root bulb (about the size of a softball or smaller), peeled and grated (see below)

In large bowl, place spinach and apple slices. To prepare celery root, wash thoroughly, then cut outer peel away from bulb revealing white inside. 

Cut bottom of root to make flat, then rest on cutting board and starting
at the top cut the peel down and away from the root ball.

Next grate celery root using a box grater. To prevent from turning brown you can squeeze a little lemon juice on the grated celery root.

Add celery root to bowl with the spinach and apple, then add enough dressing to coat. Toss to mix.

Note: I had quite a bit of extra dressing left over, but I refrigerated it and will use it on another salad in the next day or two.


  1. Is there an easy way to print your recipes?

  2. Excellent question and something I'd like to find a better solution for. At present you can either:

    -highlight the area you'd like to print, right-click and select print, then check "selection", and print
    -click on the posting for the particular recipe and select print from your browser toolbar (unfortunately it will print the sidebar stuff, too).

    If anyone else has a better way, please share!

  3. I love Aarti! This salad sounds really amazing. I'm actually kind of intimidated by celery root, but you make it seem so accessible! Thanks!

    I wonder if you could make the dressing without a food processor/blender.

  4. Hi Jessica - I love her, too!! This salad is sooooo good! I think if you can get the pistachios and garlic chopped up finely enough, like really finely minced - maybe using a nut chopper or something - then whisked the oil in pretty fervently to emulsify, it would work. Might take some elbow grease, though!

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