A huge, knobbly, over-sized softball sort of thing with straggly roots coming out of it. A kind of celery, celeriac is also known as ‘celery root,’ ‘turnip-rooted celery’ or ‘knob celery’; celeriac can be kept for several months in temperatures between 0C-5C (32F-41F); it can be used in soups, casseroles and made into crisps as a garnish, as well as being mashed. It is at its best during the winter months.
At first glance, it is probably the ugliest, most uninteresting-looking vegetable there is, but there is a hidden agenda here, for underneath the spiny roots and ugly skin is a soft, velvety flesh that has the creaminess of potato with the added subtle flavor of celery when mashed.
It is also excellent roasted in the oven and also raw in a salad, cut into tiny julienne strips and served with a creamy dressing.
When preparing celeriac, first of all, have no fear in cutting off the skin really thickly. What you need to do is cut off enough to leave behind only the creamy-white flesh, with no brown bits left behind. Because the root channels are interwoven into the base of the bulb you will need to cut all this away, so it’s always useful to remember only three-quarters of what you buy can be used. Cut off the bottom where all the roots are first so that you have a flat base.
Cut the rest into chunks and pop them in some cold salted water to prevent them turning brown. Now you can either dry them well and roast them, or boil them and combine them with equal quantities of boiled potatoes and mash.
If you’re following a low carb diet such as the South Beach Diet another good celeriac recipe is to mash celeriac with swede, pumpkin or squash. All of these give you the texture of potato without the carbs. You can then use celeriac mash to top your shepherds pie!
Peel your celeriac, chop into slices, and boil in salted water as you would do with potato. When the celeriac is soft, you can smash it with a potato masher, a fork, or you can put it through your food processor. Now’s the time to add a few extras to your celeriac recipe.
Mash a little butter or olive oil into the celeriac. Add some wholegrain mustard to the celeriac mash. Add herbs of your choice, or a little coriander for a spicy taste.
Here’s a couple of simple recipes for you to try:
Jamie loves celeriac- here is his recipe for mashed, or in Jamie-speak “smashed” celeriac.
Impress your friends with this classic French dish. Here is Julia Child’s very clear and easy recipe.
A hearty meal in a bowl and perfect for a Winter’s lunch, from BBC Good Food.
So will you be daring and give it a go? Don’t be afraid; it won’t bite you!