Celery root may be one of the homeliest vegetables in season right now, and probably takes the cake for the ugliest vegetable all year round. But this vegetable, which is also known by the name of celeriac, does a tremendous job of adding panache and elegance to creamy soups, salads and purées. With a pat of fresh golden butter and cream, the concentrated flavors of celery can be coaxed and tamed into a sublime nostalgic mashed potato-like concoction - flavors that are familiar but intriguing with hints of parsley and sweet parsnip nuances that will keep guests guessing.
One of my favorite ways to prepare this vegetable is to create a purée, that I personally prefer over traditional mashed potatoes for its light creamy and silky texture and complex herb hints. This purée is excellent served with spicy curry or roasted lamb.
If you are in New York City, celery root is available at Gorzynski Farms and Keith's Farms at the Union Square Farmers Market every Saturdays. Celery root can also be found at most Whole Foods Markets across the country. To pick a celeriac, choose one that is heavy for its size, and void of any soft spots. Celery is listed among the dirty dozen, the twelve fruits and vegetables that retain the highest level of pesticide residue, so it if you can, it may be worthwhile to seek out a pesticide-free source.
Celery Root Purée
adapted from Dorie Greenspan Bon Appétit | October 2006
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large celery root (about 1 1/4 pound total), peeled, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 small russet potato, peeled, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1/2 small onion, peeled, quartered
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chopped fresh chives (optional)
- Bring milk, water, and salt just to boil in heavy large saucepan over high heat. Add to the pan celery root, potato, and onion; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and discard cooking liquid.
- If you have a hand blender, add the butter to the sauce pan and puree the vegetables. Or if you prefer, combine vegetables and butter in processor and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Top with freshly chopped chives, if desired.