Veggie of the Week - Celeriac
sponsored by Coleman Farms
This week it's back to our roots. Celeriac is a variety of celery, related to common celery as Beet Root is to Swiss Chard - the former develop mainly the root, the latter the stalk and leaves. The english language Wikipedia article we reference classifies Celeriac as an 'underutilized vegetable', and suggests its appearance is responsible for this.
Even cleaned up for sale, it does look pretty strange, recalling those capsules that were always falling to Earth in Doctor Who and giving birth to malevolent aliens. But this doesn't keep it from being very popular in Northern Europe, where Winter finds greengrocers doing a good trade in volleyball-sized specimens, twice the diameter of those found here. I rather think that as long-distance transport of fresh produce has developed, Americans have got away from root vegetables, whose excellent keeping properties once made them the sole source of fresh Winter vegetables for many.
Celery root offers a hazel-nutty taste with more or less of the slightly astringent, cleanly fragrant flavor and odor typical of celery. Like a Rutabega, it's just a bit too hard to use raw, so that the typical 'remoulade' or 'slaw', for example, calls for the coarse grated or julienned root to be blanched (and then chilled) or briefly steamed before use (and like potato it will darken if exposed long raw to air). Celeriac can be used with other roots in soup, or alone as the basis of a cream soup; it can be used like celery stalks for juicing - we include a recipie for a 'cocktail' made of a peeled and seeded pear, a half pound of Celeriac, a bunch of basil, juiced and seasoned to taste. The notion of mixing fruit and root is a good one, leading to the idea of a naturally sweet gratin combining apples and pears with celeriac, rutabega and perhaps sweet potato. And let's not forget this vegetable's dietary uses - puréed as a substitute for mashed potato, 'chipped' as a substitute for potato chips, and breaded and fried - or lightly oiled and baked - as a substitute entrée.
thanks to de.wikipedia.org for today's illustration