This crunchy side is inexpensive, fast, and delicious. 

Any meal, whether it is a formal dinner party or just a thrown-together weeknight supper, needs some sort of bright fresh side dish to lighten it up. Bringing something cold and crunchy with punchy flavors to the party enlivens everything around it. Rich meats get taste counterpoint, carbs get textural balance, fat gets acid, heat gets cold, all of which excites the palate. This is usually a salad or slaw of some sort.

Winter salads can get a bit boring, without the freshness of summer produce to keep things exciting, and while basic slaws work great at your poolside barbecues, you don't necessarily want to serve them with your dinner party rack of lamb.

The easy winter slaw side dish: celery root remoulade! 

Enter my go-to side dish for the season, celery root remoulade. Don't be put off by the fancy-sounding name: This super old-school French dish is still seen on menus all over France in bistros and brasseries, often as a starter course. It couldn't be simpler to make: It's got one simple main ingredient and an equally simple dressing. It keeps a few days in the fridge, and while it has the best crunch the day it is made, it gets a satisfying suppleness as it sits, with the celery root absorbing more of the flavor of the dressing. 

Celery Slaw
Credit: Getty / Monkey Business Images

What you need to know about celery root 

Celery root (also called celeriac) is the perfect vegetable to eat raw all winter long; it has good bitterness but also some underlying sweetness, much like the celery it produces. It is inexpensive and easy to prep. When shopping for celery root, choose roots that feel heavy for their size, use a paring knife to remove the thick craggy outer layer to reveal the creamy flesh, then either grate on the wide holes of a grater, or julienne finely.

How to make celery root remoulade

I like the recipe classic, with just celery root, but you can double down on celery goodness and add some bias-cut celery as well. If you want to zhuzh it up further, you can add other vegetables like carrot or parsnip, or even something surprising like tart green apple or Asian pear. 

The dressing is one you can adapt for other slaws and salads and is ratio-based for ease of preparation. For every pound of celery root, you will want ½ cup of mayo (use a non-sweet brand like Hellman's) mixed with a tablespoon of strong Dijon mustard, a teaspoon of whole grain mustard, a tablespoon of lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.  

Preparation couldn't be easier: Toss the vegetables with enough dressing to coat well and serve. A garnish of parsley, chives, or another green herb is a tasty and pretty touch. You can convert to an appetizer by spooning into endive or radicchio cups. It works as a brunch dish next to a quiche or frittata; for lunch I just top with a drained can of good tuna packed in olive oil and some bread or crackers; and there is not a protein that doesn't pair well with it. 

Once you start making this slaw, you'll enjoy it all winter long!