By Heidi Lewis
Celery root, or celeriac, has a long growing season, although it flourishes in the winter cold. Great chefs worldwide consider it the quintessential winter vegetable—it is prized for its delicate flavor. Its outward appearance, however, is not quite as delicate. Once you’ve peeled this knobby, lumpy bulb to reveal the gleaming-white orb inside, you’ll understand why this veggie has a “Frog Prince” reputation.
No special training is required to prepare celery root dishes you may have enjoyed in fine restaurants: céleri rémoulade or selleriesalat can be at your fingertips. You’ll need to set aside your vegetable peeler and instead grab a sharp paring knife to peel this root’s outer hide. Once peeled, it will slowly oxidize, turning brown. If it needs to sit longer than 15 minutes, just drop it in a bowl of water with a splash of lemon to keep it looking fresh. The leaves are also a tasty addition to soups or stock since they have a super-celery flavor.
Celery root can be sliced, julienned, or grated. The big quandary is whether “to blanche or not to blanche.” Dropping chopped celery root in boiling salted water for 3 minutes yields a sweeter, softer celery root. Either way, we know you’ll enjoy this special vegetable. When you eat it, you’ll find that you can’t judge a book by its cover or a root by its peel.
Preparation: Celery root is excellent when pureed in soups; or you can simply brush sliced pieces with oil and broil it with other veggies. Mashed celery root provides a flavorful side dish, similar to mashed potatoes. It’s also delicious raw and grated in salads. Try incorporating celery root into casseroles with (or in place of) potatoes for added flavor.
Storage: If kept cold and dry in the refrigerator, celery root can last several weeks. Keep checking for any soft spots.