All About Celeriac
Some think celery root is the root of the celery we enjoy snacking on, but it’s not. Instead, the two plants are cousins, different cultivated varieties of wild celery.
Celery root is a mottled brown sphere, knobby and a little hairy. As with other root vegetables, select roots that are heavy for their size. To make it easier to peel, choose the least knobby root you can find, keeping in mind that a celery root will never be 100% smooth.
Celery root stores well at cool temperatures and should last for a few weeks stored in the produce drawer of the refrigerator, loosely wrapped in a kitchen towel or paper or plastic bag.
Celery root must be scrubbed (if very dirty) and peeled. Because of its gnarly shape, this might seem intimidating. Have no fear. Watch this video where Melissa Clark demystifies the peeling process. The key is a sharp knife.
Once peeled, celery root can be enjoyed raw or cooked. See below for recipe ideas.
Recipe: Celeriac Salad with Fresh Crabmeat and Creamy Lemon-Chive Dressing
Even today, if you walk into a traiteur shop you will find individualized vegetable salads. Don’t think salad bar – no self service here! This is what you might find: grated carrots, tomatoes (artfully arranged), macédoine de légumes, cucumber salad and celeriac salad. I avoided the colorful display of vegetables for many years, but by the time I was thirteen, my appetite for veggies exploded. That’s when I discovered celeriac (also called celery root) salad and all its glory. And now I wonder why delis don’t offer celeriac salad?
Nowadays, I usually roast celeriac with other veggies or grate it and fry it up in a skillet. Pan fried celeriac is at its best when you allow an unreasonable quantity of Gruyère cheese (or similar hard mountain cheese) to melt and bubble on top – a very successful side dish. That said, I also enjoy it raw. An annual opportunity to recover from the plated mayo-laden abusive celeriac salads of my youth is always welcome. I suggest you also try a raw version – how about the recipe I discovered below?
This salad was first prepared for and served at my husband’s 50th birthday dinner. It was the second course and served with Walnut Pear Blue Cheese Madeleines and a crisp white Sancerre.
Here is the link to the recipe in the NY Times Magazine (but originally a recipe from “Vegetable Harvest,” by Patricia Wells).
For the lemon-chive dressing:
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup light cream
1/3 cup minced chives
For the celeriac salad:
10 ounces celeriac, peeled and trimmed
6 ounces fresh crabmeat
Note: It is important to drain off the excessive dressing/liquids before plating (save juices for another salad!). Also, adjust the seasoning after draining. I like to have a little crème fraîche, an extra lemon, salt and pepper available to perk up the flavors. It’s really good with a sprinkling of grated lemon zest and chopped parsley on top.
Tina Jaillet is a Lexington resident and LexFarm founding member. She has boundless interests yet sharing foods with loved ones is a daily pursuit. Tina volunteers for the LexFarm educational committee.
More Ideas for Celeriac
Dress a salad of lentils and matchsticks of celeriac and apples with a cumin seed dressing.
Toss roasted cubes of celeriac with arugula and pecans.
Combine cooked slices of celeriac with lentils, hazelnuts, and mint.
Shred celeriac, plus apples, winter squash and other root vegetables, for this root vegetable slaw with apple cider vinaigrette.
Grate or slice the celeriac paper thin for this salad with anchovies & capers (from The Silver Spoon).
Puree with celery for this silky creamless soup.
Braise chicken with celeriac and garlic.
Puree to make a creamy sauce for baked rigatoni with fontina.
Use a knife or a spiralizer to transform a bulb of celeriac into pasta to top with puttanesca sauce.
Add celeriac and apples to spaetzle.
Combine with shredded potatoes for rosti.
Whip up a batch of oven-baked celeriac fries.
Make a sliceable, non-crumbly vegetable pâté from this celeriac and white bean puree.
Pickle celeriac slices.
Bake a cake. Choose from savory celeriac cakes or sweet celeriac cupcakes.
These collections from Martha Stewart, Six Burner Sue, BBC Good Food, Huffington Post, and LA Weekly provide more inspiration for preparing celeriac.