I’m just going to jump right into this post, as I want to take advantage of a sleeping baby.

In my last post, I told you that I had purchased celery root (or celeriac) at the Farmer’s Market for the first time.  Since then, I have actually bought it a couple more times as I really, really liked it.  I received a few questions about what it is, how to cook with it, etc, so I thought I would do a Real Food Close-Up on this unique vegetable as I wanted to learn more about it too!

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Although this was my first time purchasing celeriac, I have eaten it on several occasions.  I’ve had it roasted at a restaurant once or twice, and my friend Danielle used it in a “slaw” recipe at one of our nutritionist potlucks.  I actually thought that it was also an ingredient one of my favourite salads at Fresh (Tangled Thai), but when I checked the menu I realized it is jicama – which is a whole other post 🙂  So I knew celeriac was good, but when I put it in my basket at the market,  I really had no idea what to do with it.

I started looking into it and let’s just say this is a vegetable that I am excited to meet and would like to help others get to know a little more intimately!

Celeriac

I must admit, I totally assumed that celeriac was simply the root of the celery (hence, the name celery root).  I thought it was a similar story to beets, where the tops and the root are both edible.  Nope, not the case.  When doing some research for this post I learned that celery and celeriac are actually completely different plants.  Celeriac is a plant grown strictly for the root.  Obviously, they are closely related but the “stalks” of celeriac aren’t really edible.  Interesting right?

Celeriac is not pretty.  In fact, I would go so far as to say it’s pretty grotesque looking.  I think most people would steer clear of it at any grocery store or market.  But like the saying goes, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover!  When it comes to Real Food, I really think it is important to be open to the unfamiliar.  Not only could you be missing out on some foods with solid nutritional value, but you could discover some pretty amazing flavours to add into your cooking repertoire.  That is definitely the case with celeriac in my opinion.  It may be weird and ugly, but it is delicious.

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Seriously, I can’t believe I have gone so long without celeriac in my life.  Once you peel it, you are left with a white, potato-like root vegetable that can be prepared in a number of ways.  Celeriac does taste like celery – but what celery would taste like if crossed with a potato.  You really have to try it to understand what I am talking about.  I actually like it a lot better than regular celery, mostly because I love root vegetables but also because it has way more flavour and is much more versatile.

Now for the stats.  Celeriac is quite good for you.  It’s very popular with the “low-carb” crowd because although it is a root vegetable, it’s less starchy and surprisingly low in carbohydrates and calories (compared to potatoes, carrots etc).  It’s also very high in vitamin K, which is excellent for blood clotting and bone health, as well as vitamin C, phosphorus and magnesium.  Like celery, it’s a great source of soluble and insoluble fibre which means it’s helps with healthy bowels and keeping things moving, which is always a good thing 🙂

When I got my knobby little celery root home, I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to do with it.  A couple of days later, inspired by some other vegetables in my fridge, I made a simple Celeriac, Leek and Potato Soup.  It was delicious, with just the perfect hint of celery flavour to balance out the other ingredients.  Last week I decided to grate an entire celeriac in my food processor to keep in my fridge, which was a wonderful addition to my usual Big Bad Salads.

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And don’t assume this unconventional vegetable is just for adults.  You know how important I think it is to expose kids to a large variety of flavours as early on as possible so you bet I puréed some up for Tyson – and he loved it!  Regular celery is quite difficult for kids to eat because of its stringy and fibrous texture, but the celeriac puréed quite nicely and would be a great base for other purée combinations.

So just as  I was about to write this post, I happened to walk by a display of celeriac in my grocery store, which included a monster sized one.  I was going to take a picture but it wouldn’t do it justice – this thing is HUGE , about the size of a bowling ball.  Of course I had to buy it.  I am definitely going to cube and roast some of it for Tyson as he is all about feeding himself these days, and here are some other recipes using celeriac that I can’t wait to try:

Sweet Potato, Celeriac and Apple Puree from CBC (an interesting twist on the standard mashed potato)
Celeriac Fries from The Spunky Coconut
Salmon Fillet with Lentils and Roasted Celeriac from Nibbly Pig
Celery Root and Apple Slaw from Martha Stewart
Creamy Celeriac and Mushroom Soup from The Cozy Herbivore

I think I may have to go back to the store for more of this delicious root and I hope you will too!

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I’m curious – how many of you have cooked with celeriac before?  If you haven’t, have I convinced you to give it a try??

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