For many years now, I’ve had a garden and supported farmers’ markets. One thing I wanted to do was join a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. This year I was finally able to do so, and the first 2 boxes have made me very happy.
One of my favorite things about it is the opportunity to try vegetables I might not have given a chance otherwise. One of my favorite vegetables is kohlrabi. While I often pick up a green one at the store, there was a purple one in last week’s box. Okay, it’s probably white inside, like the green ones; I’ve not used it yet. But in the meantime, it’s purple. And to me, that’s a good thing.
Do you know what it is? Yep, it’s celeriac, commonly called celery root. Remember Homer’s Odyssey? It’s called selinon in it. It’s related to celery, but instead of eating the stalks, you eat the root. You can eat the stalks from the celery root, but most I have seen are sold stalkless.
Now I admit this is not the most attractive vegetable in the vegetable bin. It is kind of “warty,” after all. But like people, we need to look beyond the outside. There is absolutely nothing to fear from this possibly underappreciated vegetable.
Just looking at it, you’ve probably figured out you don’t eat the outside. But how hard is it to get to the good stuff inside? As hard as peeling a potato. The outside comes off easily with a sharp knife. As you cut it away and expose the white flesh, you can catch the subtle smell of celery.
Now that you have a peeled celeriac, what do you do with it? First, note it will discolor after cutting, so give it a quick bath in water with a little vinegar or lemon juice, or rub the cut side with lemon. Some people use it almost as a potato replacement. Pureed or boiled and mashed, it can take the place of mashed potatoes. Others cut it into slivers and add it raw to slaws and salads. It can also be blanched if you prefer a not-quite-so raw flavor. And yes, it can be fried.
I went the soup route. I started with my Roasted Corn and Potato Chowder. But I left out the bacon and roasted red pepper. I also added 3 peeled and chopped carrots. Instead of half and half, I used whole milk; it’s what I had. I softened the onion in a tablespoon of butter and added the peeled and roughly chopped the celeriac with the carrots and stock. And because I seem to like thyme in everything, I added some of that, too.
The result is a very tasty soup. There’s only a slight taste of the celeriac, so if you’re new to the veggie or have less-than-adventurous eaters when it comes to trying new things, this might be the way to go.
I had the leftover chowder for dinner last night. But to change it up, I added some steamed broccoli and a dash–or several dashes–of my Hottish Sauce. More yum.
I encourage you to look beyond the warts and give celeriac a try. You’ll have more options to your vegetable repertoire.© Copyright 2014 Ida Walker, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Enabling Cook