Seasonal Recipes: Celeriac

This week in our local fall CSA share we got:

Potatoes, onions, butternut squash, garlic,  tomatoes, boston lettuce, apples, collards, shiitake mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, and a couple of celery roots (celeriac).

To be honest, my husband and I looked at these two strange looking root veggies and blanked. Happily, I had noticed an email from Plan B Organics (our CSA) in my inbox earlier that day and I quickly looked it up. (Phew.)

That’s actually one of the things that I like about doing the CSA (Community Supported/Shared Agriculture): you are forced to try new things. I would likely never go out and buy celeriac at the market or grocery store, and I never would have tried tomatillos (Plan B introduced me to the wonderful world of salsa verde!), nor the variety of dark green leafy (the healthiest thing out there for you!) veggies (collards, chard, kale, baby bok choy, etc), green garlic (pesto!), and I know I wouldn’t have bothered to make pumpkin pie from scratch.

So tonight I looked up celery root on the Williams-Sonoma recipe site and came up with a good looking salad for which we had the ingredients. It was pretty good (we added apple) but could be better (no cream? more mustard?). But I still have one left, so I’m still looking for ideas. If you’re curious, here are a couple of sites that talk about celeriac:

I love the intro to this epicurious.com article: “Also called celery root, this knobby, bulbous root vegetable will not win any awards for beauty. Perhaps that’s why, year after year, it languishes on supermarket shelves, another worthy but underappreciated vegetable.”

And there are some tips and related recipes on the Williams-Sonoma site: “Celery root tastes similar to common celery but has a more pronounced nutty, earthy flavor and a softer, denser texture. Boil it as you would a potato, then mash; add it to stews or soups; or chop or shred it raw and add it to salads.”

I’m not sure what we’ll do with the next one, but raw and julienned, it was delicious.

Speaking of seasonal recipes, I’ve done a couple with links to some of our favourite soups (roasted squash with apple and brie and indian carrot) and wrote a bit about making stock. What I forgot to mention was a tip that I got from a chef at a fun Calphalon cooking course (a friend’s husband couldn’t make it so she took me!) a couple of years ago. He said chefs are notoriously cheap, and he likes to save bits that usually get composted for soup stock. He keeps them in a container in the freezer until it’s time to make stock and then dumps them in. So I’ve been doing it ever since. It helps to make stock from scratch quick and easy and flavourful. (I never seemed to have all of the ingredients on hand when I was making stock but now I do since I collect them over a month or two.) I have a large bowl with a lid in the freezer with fresh parsley stalks, clean onion ends and skins, carrot bits, unused bits of celery (especially leaves), and mushroom stems. Then when we roast a chicken or I run out of stock (I freeze it in 2 cup amounts, either in freezable jars or ziploc bags) and make up some veggie stock I can just add a few extra veggies, roast them for half an hour or so and make delicious stock.

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