Eaten raw, I find celeriac, slightly astringent, a little bit salty and tangy, with a juicy crunch similar to its topside stems.
Celeriac is a variety of celery grown specifically for its large root bulb. It is sometimes also called the turnip-rooted celery, giving an idea of what you might find once it is uprooted. Before I became a fan of the celery root, I was quite daunted by their appearance; a giant brown ball of knobby crags, packed with dirt and bits of root. How could that possibly be turned into something edible? Then I had the singularly pleasurable experience of celeriac soup. I was hooked, quickly cultivating a lovely culinary relationship with this crazy looking root.
It appears that Celeriac cultivation originated in the area identified as the “Fertile Crescent” and managed to makes its way quite well throughout the rest of the world in areas with appropriate climates. It is quite popular in European and Mediterranean cuisine and over the past decade has been making its way into American cuisine quite well.
From a culinary perspective, celeriac can be used any number of ways. It can be a potato substitute for things like mashed potatoes. It can be roasted, mashed, baked, fried, turned into pancakes, au gratins, soups, and stews. It can also be grated and eaten raw in salads or snacks, making it a really versatile addition to your winter pantry. It’s a root veggie so it also keeps well and so long as the tops are left on, can store in a cool dark area for several months with no problem.
From a health perspective, celeriac is really a wealth of nutrients and healthful properties. It’s packed with vitamins like B, C, and K. It’s a great source of Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorous and Zinc. It is high in fiber and low in starch, making it a great choice for people dealing with insulin imbalance and dysregulation. First hand research has demonstrated that eating ½ cup of celeriac can help regulate insulin production and blood lipid levels.
Because of its specific mineral combination, celeriac has demonstrated in studies, that it provides significant support for bone density and connective tissue health. It is also, like its relatives the carrot, packed with antioxidants. All of which contribute to the reduction of systemic inflammation and oxidative stress, while also increasing intracellular health and eliminating mutating cells that can become cancerous.
My favorite way to prepare celeriac in the fall and winter? Boil it like potatoes, however add a little bit of milk to help soften the fibers, once it has boiled to desirable softness, drain it and mash it up with some ghee (or butter). It’s a delicious, nutrient dense replacement for mashed potatoes. If you have leftovers you can make them into breakfast pancakes. (: