Vegetable expert Jack Staub called it “The vegetable world’s ugly duckling” with troll-like warts at NPR.org.
Celeriac, also known as celery root, knob celery, and turnip rooted celery, is not commonly used in the United States. In fact, the odd-looking vegetable which is available from September to May is often passed up at the market because no one what it is, let alone what to do with it.
For those who are brave enough to try something new, and get beyond the challenges of paring through its wart-like exterior, celeriac becomes a wonderful alternative to the popular potato with the perfect, ivory-colored flesh.
Like many other vegetables not popular in the U.S., celeriac is a staple in Northern Europe and Mediterranean countries for its nutritional benefits and the diversity in its culinary use. It has been commonly cultivated in Europe since the 17th century, though there is evidence dating back to 800 B.C.
A member of the celery family-and cousin to anise, parsley, parsnips and carrots-celeriac has evolved to become a large, round root that grows just below the ground’s surface. It has a mild celery-like flavor and a 1/2 cup serving of celeriac is an excellent source of dietary fiber, and contains only 30 calories. It also contains small amounts of calcium, iron, and vitamin B.
How to select and store
If you see a light brown, bulbous root in your produce section of the market that is approximately three inches in length with rough, green stalks surrounding the root, you have found celeriac.
Avoid soft spots, and do not buy the bulb if the leaves are wilted, even though the stalks and leaves are not typically eaten. Once home, remove the green portion and store in your refrigerator in a plastic bag for up to 10 days.
How to prepare or cook
Celeriac is very versatile and can be eaten raw by grating or shredding into salads or cooked in a variety of ways.
Let it soak in water with a bit of lemon juice to keep it from discoloration before serving in a salad or cooking it.
It can be used in recipes calling for celery, such as soups and stews. It can also be served as a side dish by paring, and then boiling, sautéing or braising. Serve it mashed or whole. Try frying it as in French fries or home fries.
Celeriac can also be baked as you might bake a whole potato. Once baked, remove the outside skin and eat the ivory-colored non-starchy flesh.
Adapted from Jamie Oliver.com
1 large celeriac, peeled
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
Fresh thyme leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 Tbsp. water or stock
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Slice 1/2 inch off bottom of celeriac and roll it to the flat edge to make it safe to slice. Slice, then dice into 1/2-inch cubes. Heat pot on high heat, add olive oil, herbs and spices, and celeriac and fry for about 5 minutes to give it color. Turn down heat, add water or stock and simmer with lid on under tender, about 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in leaving cubes whole, or smash with side of spoon. Serve as side dish as accompaniment to meat, if desired.
Curried Celeriac Slaw with Dried Cherries
Adapted from My Recipes.com
1/2 cup dried tart cherries or cranberries
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
3 Tbsp. plain fat-free yogurt
3 Tbsp. fat-free sour cream
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups peeled and shredded celeriac (about 1 pound celery root)
Combine all ingredients except the celeriac in large bowl and whisk together. Add celeriac and toss to coat. Cover and chill for 2 hours.