This isn’t really a true ‘food find’ since I have seen celery root many times before, staring me in the face as I walked through the vegetable isle in the grocery store, looking like an alien life form.
I would always notice it, sitting there looking intimidating, strange and confusing. Which is why I was so intrigued when I spotted Ontario-grown celery root on the shelf at Rowe Farms in Leslieville a few weeks ago.
I picked up one of the round, furrowed bulbs and curiously asked someone behind the counter for his opinion on the best way to cook it. He advised me to scrub it carefully to remove dirt and then steam or boil it, keeping as much of the skin on as possible, because that’s where all the good nutrients are. Great tip. I appreciated that. He also told me to think about adding a bit of sweetness to the final product since it tends to be quite bitter.
Celery root, often called ‘celeriac’, is related to celery, though grown as a root vegetable. Unlike other root vegetables though, it’s lower in starch, which makes it a great choice for a side dish mash or puree.
When you cut into it, it immediately smells like traditional celery but with an earthier kick. The taste is actually milder than celery though but definitely has an earthiness. I didn’t find the ones we bought to be too bitter but I still took the advice I was given to heart.
I decided to make a simple chunky mash with clean flavors so we could really appreciate and taste the celery root. All I added to the mash was some honey, olive oil, a touch of onion powder and salt. It was delicious.
It had a really great texture and I was happy that I left some of the skin on and mashed it roughly. It was creamy yet chunky at the same time and nice and thick without being gluey like mashed potato or other starchy root vegetables. It had a really nice earthy flavor but it wasn’t bitter in an unpleasant way at all. The sweetness from the honey just helped season it up a little, along with the other simple ingredients.
We served it alongside lemon chicken and it was a perfect pairing.
I’m very intrigued to try cooking with it in different ways. I think it would be fantastic mashed with roasted apple or pear to add that sweetness instead of honey, or pureed with asparagus or something similar and served with fish. It also tasted really good raw, so I’d like to find some interesting ways to use it as is.
Moral of the story: Don’t be afraid of the alien-like fruits or vegetables calling out to you on your next visit to the grocery store of farmers market! There could be something really amazing lurking beneath the surface…
Chunky Celery Root Mash
2 bulbs of celery root
Good olive oil
Grab your celery root and a good vegetable scrubbing brush and scrub it well under warm water.
Cut off the top and bottom of each celery root bulb and any wiry, nubby parts, keeping as much skin as you can to keep all the nutrients.
Cut into cubes. Steam or boil the celery root chunks until tender. I used a microwavable steamer and steamed them for 10 minutes.
Mash with a potato masher, add in some olive oil, sea salt, honey, onion powder (or garlic powder) to taste.
Serve as you would mashed potato or any other mashed root vegetable.