Care of Laura Wright
This knobby, dirty, scraggly brute of a vegetable (also called Celeriac) is one of my favourite culinary delights of the cold weather season. Celery-like shoots emerge above the soil, while the beast-like root vegetable grows beneath the dirt. As you may probably guess, it has a detectable celery note, but also a creamy sweetness that reminds me of new potatoes. It’s dreamy as a vegetable puree or worked into soups, even slicing it up real thin and tossing it into salads brings an earthy note of freshness.
Treat It Right: You can generally find celery root at farmer’s markets around this time of year at a very reasonable price point. If your local grocery store has a decent seasonal vegetable selection, it may be stocked there as well. Look for large beige-white, turnip-sized bulbs with a bunch of craters and roots near the root vegetable section. Once you get that baby home and you’re ready to cook, give it a good scrub and trim off the top and bottom ends so that you have opposing flat sides. From here, put one of the flat sides face down on the cutting board. Now you can run your knife down the sides, peeling off the tough skin to reveal beautiful pearly white root vegetable goodness inside. Slice/dice it up and go.
A Flavour Odyssey: As mentioned, celery root is derived from wild celery, which has a small, edible root at the base and has been used in Europe since ancient times. It’s even mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey! In The Iliad, the horses of Myrmidons graze on lotus and wild celery (or selinon as the Greeks called it). It’s also described amongst other luscious edibles growing around Calypso’s cave when Hermes goes to request the release of Odysseus. He stops to bask in the abundance of the whole scene, noting that “Even a god could not help being charmed with such a lovely spot.”
Sorry, Potatoes: Most of all, I love celery root as a less carb-y potato replacement. I’ve never been the kinda gal to refuse bread at a restaurant, but sometimes you want a starchy side that feels a bit lighter in the tummy and maybe has a bit more going on in terms of flavour complexity. Enter this earthy gem. Celery root is high in many nutrients, including fiber, potassium, and vitamin C and despite it’s rich and velevety texture, the vegetable is definitely a lower carbohydrate option in comparison to the more-common potato.