On the outside, celery root, also known as celeriac, is unmistakably ugly. But the knobby root vegetable has an inner beauty that is worth discovering.
The root of the celery plant is round, brown and slightly hairy. It's flavor is mild, like celery with nutty undertones and has a starchy, potato-like consistency and texture. It's a winning combination, whether roasted, braised, pureed or simply left raw and crisp. It's very easy to store and can easily last weeks in your refrigerator drawer. Celery root is often available year-round, but it's best in fall, winter and early spring. So, while we are itching to get outside and usher in grilling season, now is actually a great time to experiment with celery root. An easy introduction is The Chopping Block's Celery Root Purée recipe.
Celery Root Purée
Yield: 4 servings as a side
Active time: 20 minutes
Start to finish: 45 minutes
2 celery roots (about 1 pound each), peeled and cut into medium dice
- My Rosle peeler made easy work of this task, but if you don't have a tough peeler like that, you'll want to use a knife to cut around the vegetable first.
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Water to cover
1 cup heavy cream, warm
Celery salt and pepper to taste
1. Place the celery root and sugar in a heavy pan and add just enough water to cover. Set over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until all of the water has evaporated and the celery root is tender. Add a bit of hot water to the pot if the celery root needs to cook more.
2. Using a spoon, transfer the celery root and about 1/4 cup of the warm cream to a food processor. Purée the celery root, adding more cream if necessary, until you have a silky and smooth purée.
3. Season with celery salt and pepper to taste.
I served the puree as the base for Red Wine Braised Short Ribs and it was delicious!
One thing to note: celeriac discolors quickly after cutting, so use it quickly or toss with an acidic dressing if using in a salad.
What's your favorite way to eat this ugly vegetable?