You may have seen it in the supermarket; perhaps you turned the other way, grabbed Brussels sprouts or cauliflower instead of this gnarly, white knob. It's celery root or celeriac, the root of the celery plant, and you definitely shouldn't be judging it by its appearance. This grey root has a lot of uses, and as winter moves forward, you may want to add it to your winter veggie repertoire.
Firstly, what is celery root? Its name can be considered a misnomer, as it's not the root of the celery you buy in stalks to put in tuna salad. Rather, it's the root of a related plant, cultivated solely for this giant tuber, though it shares some of the flavor of celery. Mainly, it's just a mild root, perfect for roasting or puréeing into soups along with other winter vegetables. It has the added bonus of being relatively inexpensive and low in calories, which means that mixing half celeriac and half potatoes for a soup or mashed potato recipe can create a low-cal version of your favorites.
To fully take advantage of the mild flavor of this root, use it in this typically French salad. French children grow up eating céleri remoulade in the same way that American children are familiar with cole slaw. The salad is easy to make and keeps well in the fridge, which makes it the perfect make-ahead lunchtime side dish or appetizer. David Lebovitz, an American blogger and chef living in France, makes a great version of celeriac remoulade, with step-by-step instructions in English.
Celery root is particularly good in puréed soups, much like other winter vegetables. A celery and celeriac soup highlights the similarities between the two related vegetables. Be sure to check out the accompanying recipe for celeriac bread, a unique spin that goes great with the hearty, creamy soup.
Celery Root Purée
Celery root's texture is similar to that of the potato, making it perfect for use in purées along with potatoes. Try our very own recipe for Roasted Garlic Organic Potato and Celery Root Purée or Smashed Potatoes and Celery Root with Chives for a great side dish.
Celery Root for Dessert
Don't believe us? Check out five ways to use vegetables in desserts. Not only does celery root add moisture to baked goods without imparting a lot of vegetable flavor, it also caramelizes very well, much like yams or sweet potatoes. You can candy celery root fairly easy, which makes for an interesting accompaniment to drinks.
image: David Blaine