Overlooked Winter Veggies: Give celery root a chance

Celery Root | Image via Getty ImagesThis is the first article in a series on overlooked winter vegetables.

Celery root may not be a beauty queen of the produce aisle, but this knobby root vegetable—also known as celeriac, turnip-rooted celery or knob celery—is definitely worth a second look. Peel away its rough, warty exterior and you’ll find dense, white flesh similar to a turnip. Give it a nibble, and you’ll find flavors of celery and parsley.

As the name suggests, celery root is a variety of celery that was refined over time to create a solid, globular (and delicious) root. It is related to carrots, parsnips, anise and parsley, and its firm flesh makes a low-starch, low-calorie alternative to potatoes in hearty winter meals.

Once it is peeled (a paring knife works best), celery root can be eaten raw, as in the classic French salad celerie remoulade. It also responds well to roasting, stewing, blanching, mashing and frying. Try celery root gratin, celery root bisque, or caramelized celery root with lentils, or follow the below recipe for a lighter, subtly sweet riff on mashed potatoes. 

Celery Root, Apple, and Potato Puree

  • 1 pound celery root (celeriac), peeled, cut into ¾-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt 
  • 1½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes 
  • 1 Granny Smith apple (1/2 pound), peeled, cored, cut into 1-inch cubes 
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream
  • Freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

Add the celery root and potatoes to a large pot of boiling salted water. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15 minutes or until fork-tender. (The celery root will be firmer than the potatoes.) Drain the cooked celery root and potatoes in a colander and transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Meanwhile, bring the apple and 2 tablespoons of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Cover and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the apple softens and falls apart, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the cooked apples to the celery root and potatoes, and process until the mixture is smooth. Add the butter and cream, season with salt and pepper to taste, and process once more to combine. Stir in the chopped thyme leaves and serve warm.

PEGGY PAUL is a freelance editor, writer, and recipe developer (and part-time produce peddler) living in Philadelphia. On her blog, AnUnstillLife.com she shares seasonal recipes, cooking tips and inspirations.