One of my favorite winter foods is Celery Root, also known as Celeriac. It’s sometimes hard to find, and you might not know what it is when you first see it. But if you find it, try it. High in fiber, potassium, magnesium and B6, it’s not at all starchy, and so a great low-glycemic alternative to potatoes. My “old” French cookbook says céleri root is “very healthy, light, and can be served raw in salads or cooked with various accompaniments.” I often use it in a potato gratin to average down the starch of the potato. Celery root or “céleri-rave” is a different variety of celery than the one you see in the U.S. supermarkets with the pale fibrous stalks with green tops cut off. In France you can also buy céleri-branche, by the stalk or by the half-stalk, but the branches will be very green and have all the leaves on top. I know it’s hard to love the look of celery root…it’s a knobby root and not very “sexy” as far as veggies go…but give it a try if you can find it~
I used two celery roots from Chino Farm in the salad last week for the San Diego Herb Club; I showed the group how to cut the tender green shoots off and chop them finely and add to the salad greens; it’s as good or better than many herbs. If you don’t use the greens in a salad, toss the tops into your stock pot.
Use a knife to pare the celery root skin; you can use a peeler but it will take much longer. I toss the peel into the stock pot or compost. The roots from Chino Farm are much smaller than the ones you will find in France or other farms, but that’s sort of the focus of the farm; small and tender.
For salads, I use a standard hand-grater, the one that has four sides; usually I grate this raw for a little crunch, right into the salad and toss with dressing; today I use the root to make a celery root remoulade. Start with the grated root.
Drop the grated root into boiling water for 30 seconds and no more…this will make it a little more tender, but keep a bit of texture.
Some folks like to use store-bought mayonnaise, but I made some fresh, with an egg yolk and lemon juice and olive oil…..
And lastly, add in a few spoons of Maille mustard~
In the end, you will have a yellow mayonnaise that will coat a spoon….of which the old cookbook says ”there is nothing better, but more costly”…more costly than store-bought mayo perhaps, but I agree, I’d take scratch-mayo any day~
Today I tossed the celery root with the mayonnaise and served it in egg cups. You just need a little taste of this to cut your appetite just a little and warm up your palette for the rest of the meal. In the olden days, les hors-d’oeuvre were a way for the household to use up the bits of what was left in the kitchen and curb the appetite for the main dishes. So just a little taste is enough~
Though I liked the egg cups, for parties I’d use a little bit of contrast with a tiny leaf of radicchio to hold the grated celery root. I’ll have more to tell you about this dish after the upcoming trip to Paris~
And if you don’t want to use the celery root for appetizers, try it in julienne or cubes or a variation of those….
Today I used the thick slices of celery root with a whole roasted chicken. It makes a nice change from potato, and a beautiful complement to carrots, especially when I serve it in a nice oval copper dish~
Love to hear from you if you can find celery root in your area….