You’ve probably walked right by this homely vegetable in the produce section of the supermarket. About the size of a softball, celeriac looks like a potato on steroids that is having a very bad hair day. The bulb is covered with a gnarly yellow-green peel with brown rootlets. Green celery-like stalks may be growing out of the top.
But don’t let the appearance fool you. Celeriac, otherwise known as celery root, is a versatile addition to your cooking repertoire. The vegetable combines the tastes of celery, artichoke and parsley and, when cooked, has the texture of a potato. Celeriac can be added to fresh salads, cooked in soups or used as a replacement in recipes calling for cauliflower, fennel or cardoon. It is sometimes paired with carrots, beets or apples.
When purchasing celeriac, look for firmness and avoid any with lots of rootlets. To prevent discoloring, soak the celeriac in a little vinegar or lemon juice before peeling.
In my experiment with celeriac, I tried a variation on a traditional scalloped potatoes (a family favorite):
Scalloped Potatoes with Celeriac
3 unpeeled potatoes, sliced
2 small celeriac bulbs, peeled and sliced (about 2 cups)
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup chopped ham
1 12-ounce can broth (vegetable or chicken)
½ cup flour
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
In an oiled 9-by-13-inch casserole dish, layer half of the potatoes, celeriac, onion and ham, and then repeat. In a mixing bowl, combine the broth, flour and pepper. Pour the mixture over the casserole. Top with the cheddar cheese. Cover lightly with foil and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Remove the foil, and bake until browned on top, about 15 minutes.
I hope you’ll experiment with this and share your favorite recipe with us.