Celeriac – seriously underrated, but versatile, winter stalwart.

Celeriac

Celeriac is the weird, knobbly root vegetable that customers see at our Farmers market stalls from late summer to winter. We usually don’t make a big effort to promote it because it is one of the secrets of the restaurant industry. Now in the lead up to winter, it is time to promote this amazingly versatile vegetable for use at home.

Celeriac is a variety of celery, Apium graveolens, that has been bred for its swollen stem base as well as edible stems and leaves. The crop requires minimal chemical disease control, compared with celery, due to the stem base being the main part of interest for eating

Celeriac has an ugly appearance, which can be daunting for the home cook, but when topped, tailed and peeled, the beautiful white flesh within is revealed. Its flesh has a smooth, stringless texture and a mild, celery flavour. It can discolour if not used quickly, so if preparing in advance, place it in water with a dash of lemon juice or vinegar.

Preparing celeriac – serious knife work.

 

In the kitchen the uses of celeriac are many and varied, from roasting, to casseroles, salads and pickles. One of its major attributes is its savoury flavour and it can be used as a component of mirepoix, the classic aromatic flavour base for many soups, stews and casseroles.  A mix of carrot, onion and celery or celeriac is slowly cooked in butter or oil to use as the foundation for many dishes.

Celeriac is low in carbohydrates, so makes a good substitute for potatoes and other starchy foods. It is also a good companion for potatoes and adds a deliciously savoury flavour when the puree is mixed with mashed potato or when sliced and combined  with potato in a gratin.

Used raw, celeriac is a perfect for winter salads and slaws. Finely shred it and combine with other crisp vegetables such as shredded cabbage, kohl rabi, apple or daikon, finish with a light, lemony mayonnaise. Celeriac is the key ingredient of romoulade – the famous French salad of shredded celeriac dressed with a light creamy mayonnaise. Shredded celeriac can also be pickled and lacto-fermented by itself or with other vegetables to make delicious, crunchy preserved vegetables.

Celeriac combines well with other root vegetables such as fennel or leeks to make beautiful creamy winter soups.

Read more about celeriac in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s article: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/dec/14/celeriac-recipes-hugh-fearnley-whittingstall

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