There is a Chinese saying: You eat first with your eyes, then your nose, then your mouth. If that is true, then it’s easy to understand why this knobby, brown vegetable is often passed over in favor of the more colorful and attractive vegetables. It’s bulbous shape covered in an unruly tangle of hairy roots looks more like something you’d plant in the garden than something you might actually eat. It’s called celery root, and it’s also known as celeriac, celery knob, or turnip-rooted celery. Hiding inside the tough, gnarled exterior is a vegetable that is as delicious as it is versatile.
Cultivated specifically for its root, celery root is available from October through April. Botanically, celery root is known as Apium graveolens var. rapaceum. It’s a member of the larger Umbelliferae (carrot) family, making it related to parsnips and parsley as well. While growing celery root can be somewhat labor intensive, the plus is that it can be grown in a container. This makes celery root a good candidate for container gardens.
Celery root is plenty nutritious, too. It’s high in potassium, manganese, phosphorous, molybdenum and vitamin B6. Celery root is also an excellent source of vitamin K and C. A single one-cup serving of celery root contains a whopping 11% of our daily fiber recommendations. What’s more, at just 66 calories per serving, celery root is a low-calorie high-volume veggie- perfect for people looking for alternatives to heavy, starchy vegetables like potatoes or grains such as rice. Celery root has a lovely delicate flavor a cross between celery and parsley with a slight nuttiness.
Buying, Cleaning, and Storing Celery Root
When shopping, look for celery root with its green leaves still attached; they should look fresh, not wilted or rotten. These are freshly harvested roots which tend to be more tender and easier to peel. Avoid roots with soft spots or an excess of rootlets. Instead, choose small, firm roots that are heavy for their size.
When you bring celery root home from the store, be sure to remove the stalks and store them separately—both the root and the stalks will last longer. But don’t wash the dirt from the root just yet. Celery root often has bits of dirt clinging to the peel, leave it. It will actually keep the root fresher, longer. Since celery root is a root vegetable, it stores well as long as it’s kept cool. Store celery root in loosely wrapped plastic in the fridge for up to several weeks.
Cleaning and trimming a celery root is similar to that of a pineapple. To prep a celery root for use, wash the root carefully to remove any dirt. Next, cut off the top and bottom of the root and place it upright on the cutting board, flat side down. Carefully slice away the knobby skin by running the knife from top to bottom, turning the root as you go. You should expect quite a bit of trim loss due to the roots uneven surface. Celery root will turn brown once peeled. To prevent this, drop it in a bowl of cold water until just before you need it. Here’s a step-by-step visual guide to peeling a celery root that is helpful if you’ve never done it before.
Cooking Celery Root
One of the biggest benefits of celery root is its versatility in the kitchen. Cooked celery root is excellent in soups, stews and other hot dishes. Like other root vegetables, celery root is excellent when roasted. It can also be enjoyed raw, particularly grated and tossed into salads. Celery root also makes a delicious addition to the meatless grill. You can even juice it! With such a wide variety of preparations possible, you’re sure to find the one you love.
To help get you inspired I’ve put together a list of recipes that make celery root the star of the plate.
Photo: Olives for Dinner
- Celery Root Hashbrowns with Basil Cream
- Celery Root Beet Noodle with Pistachio-Beet Green Pesto
- Rosemary Beets Celery Root Puree
- Roasted Herbed Celery Root
- Creamy Celeriac Soup
- Creamy Cashew Celery Root Soup
- Celery Root Fennel Bisque
- Creamy Cauliflower Celery Root Soup with Roasted Shiitake Mushrooms
- Fennel Celery Root Salad with Dill Avocado
- Celery Root Salad with Apples Parsley
- Celeriac Chops
- Cheesy Potato, Celery Root Cauliflower Mash
- Celery Root Schnitzel
- Baked Celery Root Fries
Have you cooked with celery root before? Do you have a favorite recipe? Share with me in the comments!