I am still enjoying celeriac.
I will call it my frog prince of winter vegetables.
I was unfamiliar with it, until I had gotten it in my CSA box and had to figure out what I was going to do with this unsightly vegetable. Aboveground, celeriac is a gorgeously symmetrical crown of green, celery-like growth. However, pull up the pretty green crown and what you unearth looks like a troll’s orb of warts and roots. It has to be one of the ugliest vegetables I have ever seen, but now I can’t get enough of it!
Celeriac is a celery variety refined over time to produce an increasingly large, solid, globular root just below the soil surface. Its green stalks may look like celery, but celery root and celery are not from the same plant, although they are from the same family. The root, stems and leaves of celery root are edible, but most recipes feature the large bulb. Chop the stems and leaves and add them to stocks and stews for a pleasing aromatic (think celery paired with parsley). Celery root can be served puréed, mashed, roasted or raw in a salad. It is a great substitute for potatoes and can be prepared in a similar way, mashed, boiled or baked.
Also known as celery root, knob celery and turnip-rooted celery, celeriac developed from the same wild species as did stalk celery. It had medicinal and religious uses in many early civilizations, including those of Egypt, Greece and Italy. Although mostly unrecognized in the United States, in Europe, celeriac is a historic favorite. This versatile vegetable is an excellent source of vitamins C and K, as well as a good source of phosphorus. Additionally, half a cup contains only 30 calories, no fat and provides an excellent source of dietary fiber. Celeriac is cousin to anise, carrots, parsley and parsnips, some of which are bred for their edible stalks and tops, others for their edible roots.
I use a paring knife to pare off its warty exterior and uncover the royal vegetable within: a perfect, ivory-fleshed, winter alternative to potatoes and other starches. When peeled, celery root’s creamy white flesh resembles that of a turnip and tastes like a subtle blend of celery and parsley. When picking a celery root look for small, firm bulbs that do not have any soft spots. You will be cutting off the rootlets and the bulb’s top so don’t be surprised if you cut off up to a third of the bulb before cooking. You then need to peel the outer skin and rub any exposed celery root flesh with lemon juice to prevent browning if you aren’t going to use it right away. I made a celeriac and apple mash which was incredible. Here is to the royal vegetable!
CELERIAC AND APPLE MASH
- 1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 cup water
- 1 pound celeriac peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 pound Yukon gold potatoes peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 medium Granny Smith apple peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 medium shallot coarsely chopped
- 1 dried bay leaf
- Coarse salt
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 ounce blue cheese about 2 tablespoons, plus more for crumbling
- Bring stock, water, celeriac, potatoes, apple, shallot, bay leaf and bring to a boil in a large pot.
- Cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
- Strain, reserving liquid but discarding bay leaf.
- Return celeriac, potatoes, apple, and shallot to pot, and add 3/4 cup reserved cooking liquid.
- Coarsely mash with a potato masher.
- Using a fork, mash together butter, oil and blue cheese in a small bowl.
- Stir into celeriac mixture.
- Season with salt.
- Spoon into a warm serving bowl, and crumble blue cheese over top.