There is a certain point where ugly becomes beautiful. And, to me, that is the case with celeriac. It’s one of the absolute most beautiful – yet far from perfect – vegetables I know.
Beautiful or not, I had no idea what to do with one when we met our first one a few years back. It was gnarly, dirty and intimidating. It has also become one of my most favorite vegetables to work with.
Celeriac is the root of the celery plant. It’s found at farmers markets in the winter because it stores very well over the winter (the greens are long gone). To prepare it is simple: clean it the best that you can and remove excess dirt (which is often lodged between the roots) by peeling with a vegetable peeler. I peel the skin as I use it and leave the skin on unused portions as it dries out slower this way.
Celeriac is dense (about the same density of the stem of a cauliflower) and tastes much like celery (though it tends to be more savory and ‘heavier’). If it’s being added to a dish with other ingredients make sure to use care or it can easily dominate a dish. It’s delightful when prepared on it’s own as well.
Here’s a few ways/ recipe ideas to use Celeriac:
- Chop it into small pieces and cook it with other vegetables in the place of celery. This is particularly effective with a mirepoix which is a combination of 2 parts onion, 1 part celery and 1 part carrot. Cut pieces the same size as the chunks of carrots you use and start a stir fry or a sauce with this combination (the onion is generally cooked slightly before the other two are added).
- Roast it. Cut it into small pieces or large chunks. Toss with a bit of oil, salt, pepper and other seasonings of your choice (paprika, cayenne and garlic is a great combination). Roast (350-400), tossing every few minutes until slightly brown and/or soft. Serve as-is or finish with a touch of honey or balsamic.
- Puree it. Boil pieces in salted water with a bay leaf (often with another vegetable such as cauliflower), drain well and blitz with a food processor until smooth. Adding butter and/or a touch of cream, salt and pepper are great ways to finish the dish. Serve as you would mashed potatoes.
- Soup. Boil pieces in stock with a bay leaf (treat just like the puree, including adding cauliflower if you wish and skip draining it). Blitz to create soup. You may with to add more stock to it to create soup. A touch of cream or milk is a nice addition here as well.
If you use celeriac already, what are your favorite tips or recipes for it?