I love the indulgence of Christmas: special ingredients, time spent preparing them, and on dressing the tree and the table, and feasting perhaps a little too much on all those delicious things. One of which, in my house, is this great Christmas Day starter: fresh, light and magnificently colourful.
Celeriac beetroot remoulade with smoked trout
Both the dressing and the veg can be prepped ahead and mixed just before serving.
Prep 25 min
Serves 4 as a starter
½ medium celeriac (about 300g), peeled
150g beetroot, peeled
1 small apple
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
For the dressing
200g full-fat creme fraiche
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp horseradish, or English mustard
A small handful of soft herbs (eg, dill, parsley or chervil), leaves picked and finely chopped
1 tbsp capers, drained and finely chopped
Zest of 1 orange
Butter, or a vegan alternative, at room temperature
200g smoked trout
Rye bread, or sourdough
Use a julienne peeler or sharp knife to cut the celeriac and beetroot into matchsticks. Put these in a bowl with enough water just to cover and squeeze in half of the lemon juice; keep the rest of the juice and the zest for the dressing.
Whisk the creme fraiche with the olive oil, mustard, horseradish and herbs. Grate in the zest of one orange and half a lemon, and season to taste. The dressing needs to make a flavourful, beautifully fiery contrast to the root vegetables and smoked fish, so be generous with the seasoning and add more olive oil if you think it can take it.
Butter the bread and slice it as thinly as you dare (it is easier to butter the cut end of the loaf before slicing). You can do this in advance and cover with a damp tea-towel to stop the bread drying out.
Just before serving, drain the vegetables, tip them on to a tea towel, pat dry and put in a bowl. Coarsely grate the apple into the vegetables, toss with the dressing, then stir in the capers. Taste one last time, preferably with a little piece of the salty trout, to double check the seasoning.
Either plate up individually with pretty piles of the salad sprinkled with herbs, thin slices of the trout, all seasoned with pepper and lemon juice, with the buttered bread arranged neatly on the side, or put each component on a separate platter for people to help themselves.
The simple flex …
To make this vegan, serve with little crisp rösti made with the other half of the celeriac, instead of the trout, and omit the creme fraiche and dress with more olive oil.
Fiona Beckett’s drinks match
Shhh … It’s Riesling 2021 £6.25 Co-op, 11.5%. Relatively dry for Mosel riesling, with an attractive touch of sweetness. Perfect for this kind of dish.
Kerner Kellerei Kurtatasch Alto Adige 2021 £17.75 (or £15.75 by the case of six) Haynes Hanson & Clark, 13.5%. Gorgeous, fresh, alpine white with a beguilingly smoky character (kerner is the grape variety).