Shaved Root Vegetable Salad

Though vegetables were an important food item and eaten daily by everyone in the Middle Ages, in many ways they were considered an inferior menu item. Vegetable dishes are hardly ever mentioned in Medieval cookbooks. The pure simplicity of vegetable preparation – raw tossed with oil and vinegar – often meant that precious vellum or parchment wasn’t wasted on recording the recipes. Some cookbooks go so far as to point out that the ability to prepare vegetables is common knowledge and further instructions are not necessary. Raw salads were considered an excellent way to begin a meal.

Chaucer’s The Franklin’s Tale from The Canterbury Tales focuses on truth and generosity in human relationships. In the Middle Ages a franklin was a landowner and one who’s table would have likely reflected the healthy bounty of his land.

This recipe was developed for my recent Cooking Canterbury classes at The J. Paul Getty Museum in conjunction with the special exhibition Canterbury and St. Albans: Treasures fro Church and Cloister.

The picture was taken by Julia Sherman and first appeared in her blog, Salad for President.

For the salad:
1 red beet
1 golden beat
1 celery root, peeled
1 bulb fennel
3 carrots, peeled
1 bunch radishes, trimmed
1 apple, unpeeled (Gala, Fuji or Braeburn are good options)

For the dressing:
1 anchovy
1 garlic clove
juice of one lemon (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Scrub vegetables, remove peel from carrots and beets. Cut fronds and bottom of fennel, discard. Cut fennel in half lengthwise, remove outer layer and discard. Remove tops from radishes and wash the radishes well. Cut apple in half and de-seed. Using a large knife, remove all out layer of the celery root and discard. You should just have the white flesh showing. Using a mandolin, carefully slice all vegetables except for radishes, into paper-thin slices. Slice radishes individually to the same thickness of the rest of your veggies. Place in separate bowls and make the dressing.

In a mortar and pestle, mash the anchovy, garlic and a pinch of salt to a paste. Squeeze in the lemon juice and stir to break up the anchovy paste. Beat in the mustard. Whisk in the olive oil, a little at a time. Season with the pepper. Dress each vegetable pile separately to keep the beets from turning everything red, or toss them all together in a bowl. Beautiful and delicious either way! This salad is better the longer it sits in the dressing.

Serves 8

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