January 29, 2008

The pickup: Huge and bulbous, with a knobby, wrinkled skin, celeriac (also known as celery root) is one ugly duckling. But celery root is a versatile vegetable with a delicate flavor somewhere between celery, parsley, and artichokes. Its flesh is reminiscent of potatoes; unlike spuds, however, celery root can be eaten both raw and cooked, making it equally suitable for crunchy salads and creamy soups.

The results: Celeriac is perhaps best known as the main ingredient in the classic French salad known as céleri rémoulade. I wanted to try a twist on this famous dish in Gourmet magazine incorporating parsley and fennel. (Food & Wine also offers a version of this bistro salad featuring pears and walnuts.)

Celery root is ugly but tasty.

So I hit my local grocery, where the hard, firm, and definitely hideous root earned me weird stares at checkout. At home, I assembled the rest of the salad’s ingredients — fennel bulb, parsley, and a lemony vinaigrette — before turning my attention to the two-pound root resting on my cutting board.

Twenty minutes and a cut to my thumb later, I’d finally wrestled the inner root out of its tough skin. Then I simply shaved the snowy white bulb into paper-thin strips with a vegetable peeler and tossed everything together.

Lessons learned? Use a good, sharp knife and a sturdy peeler to speed up the prep time, and for more flavor, sprinkle the salad with freshly grated Parmesan.

Celeriac also makes a good mix-in for smashed potatoes and a delicious base for soup.

There are 3 comments on this item
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1. by anonymous on Jan 30, 2008 at 7:35 AM PST

i love love celeric. I just wish it wasn’t so darn expensive. My attempt to grow it last year was a complete failure.

2. by shari on Jan 30, 2008 at 5:05 PM PST

That’s part of the reason it’s expensive - it’s hard to grow! I tried growing it for several years and gave up. I’m happy to pay whatever our local growers ask for it - they deserve it, having figured out how to grow it! Look for it at the Ayers Creek booth at the Hillsdale Farmer’s Market. Theirs is worth every penny.

3. by bipolarlawyercook on Jan 30, 2008 at 5:45 PM PST

My favorite way to have celery root is a riff on E. David’s Celeriac Braised in Butter. Braise one celeriac cut into matchsticks in a 12 inch non stick saute pan with enough acidulated water to cover, salt, pepper, and 1/2 stick butter, appx. 30 mins., until water evaporates and celery root is tender. Do not let brown. If not yet tender, add more butter and continue to stew until tender.

You could dress this with tarragon vinegar, lemon juice, or dijon mustard, but I like it just plain.

Also works with old, woody carrots.

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