How to Cook Celeriac

Looking to add something different to your healthy meals? Look no further than celeriac. Yes, it looks odd, but, when prepared the right way – and there are lots of ways to so that as you’ll discover in a moment – it is a delicious alternative to starchy potatoes, a great alternative to veggies like broccoli or swede and is super healthy to boot. What’s not to love?

What is Celeriac?

Celeriac, also known as celery root, is a root vegetable that belongs to the same family as celery. Despite its name, celeriac is not the root of the celery plant but rather a distinct vegetable on its own. It is characterized by its knobby, irregularly shaped root with a rough, tan-colored outer skin. The inner flesh is creamy white and has a firm and dense texture.

Celeriac has a unique flavor that combines the subtle taste of celery with hints of parsley and nuttiness. It offers a pleasant crunch when eaten raw and becomes tender and creamy when cooked. Although it may appear a bit unappealing due to its rugged appearance, celeriac is highly versatile and can be enjoyed in a variety of cooked and raw preparations.

Flavour and Nutritional Benefits of Celeriac

Celeriac offers a unique and earthy flavor that adds depth to a variety of dishes. But its appeal goes beyond taste, as this knobby root vegetable boasts an array of health benefits. Here’s a glimpse into what celeriac has to offer:

Rich in Nutrients: Celeriac is a nutritional powerhouse, providing essential vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin B6. It is also a good source of minerals like potassium, phosphorus, and manganese, which play crucial roles in maintaining overall health.

Dietary Fiber: High in fiber, celeriac promotes a healthy digestive system, aids in weight management, and helps regulate blood sugar levels. Adding celeriac to your meals can contribute to improved digestion and a satisfied appetite.

Antioxidant Properties: Celeriac contains antioxidants like vitamin C and various phytonutrients, including caffeic acid and ferulic acid. These compounds help neutralize harmful free radicals, reducing oxidative stress and supporting overall cellular health.

Anti-Inflammatory Benefits: Celeriac contains anti-inflammatory substances such as polyphenols and flavonoids. Regular consumption of celeriac may help reduce inflammation in the body and contribute to the prevention of chronic diseases.

How to cook celeriac

Once they get past the initial shock of considering consuming this odd looking vegetable, the next question most people trying it for the first time have is how to cook celeriac.

Essentially celeriac is much like a potato or a swede, and can be cooked in many of the same ways. However, to get specific, here is a look at some of the best ways to cook and prepare it to get the most out of its flavours and its health benefits.

Roasting

Roasting celeriac enhances its natural sweetness and creates a delightful caramelized flavour. To roast celeriac, preheat your oven to 200°C. Peel and cut the celeriac into cubes or wedges, toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread them out on a baking sheet. Roast for approximately 30-40 minutes, turning occasionally, until the celeriac is tender and golden brown. The result is a heavenly side dish or a delicious addition to salads and grain bowls.

Mashing

Celeriac can be transformed into a creamy and flavorful mash, providing a unique twist to traditional mashed potatoes. Peel and cube the celeriac, then boil it in salted water until tender. Drain the cooked celeriac and mash it with butter, cream, or vegetable broth. Season with salt, pepper, and herbs such as thyme or rosemary. This velvety celeriac mash pairs wonderfully with roasted dishes or can be enjoyed as a comforting standalone side.

Soups and Purees

Celeriac shines in soups and purees, adding depth and richness to every spoonful. Start by peeling and dicing the celeriac. Sauté onions, garlic, and celery in a pot until softened, then add the celeriac and vegetable or chicken broth. Simmer until the celeriac is tender, then puree the mixture until smooth. Season with herbs, spices, and a touch of cream for a velvety texture. Enjoy this warm and comforting celeriac soup on chilly days or as an elegant starter for dinner parties.

Celeriac Fries

Crispy and flavourful celeriac fries are a delicious and healthier alternative to traditional potato fries. Peel the celeriac and cut it into thin matchstick-shaped pieces. Toss them in olive oil, salt, and your favorite seasonings, such as paprika or garlic powder. Arrange the coated celeriac sticks in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 220°C for approximately 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through. Serve these irresistible fries as a side dish or a tasty snack.

Gratin

Celeriac gratin is a decadent and comforting dish that showcases the root vegetable’s unique flavor. Slice the peeled celeriac into thin rounds and layer them in a baking dish. Pour a mixture of nut milk seasoned with herbs, garlic, and grated vegan cheese over the celeriac. Bake at 190°C for about 40-45 minutes until the celeriac is tender and the top is golden and bubbly. Indulge in the creamy and cheesy goodness of celeriac gratin as a satisfying accompaniment to roasted meats or as a vegetarian centerpiece.

Stir-Frying

Celeriac can add a delightful crunch and flavor to stir-fries. Cut the peeled celeriac into thin strips or matchsticks. Heat oil in a wok or skillet, add your favorite vegetables, such as bell peppers, carrots, and onions, and stir-fry until crisp-tender. Toss in the celeriac and cook for a few minutes until slightly softened. Add soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and any other desired seasonings for an extra burst of flavor. Stir-fry for a minute or two more, ensuring the celeriac retains its crunch. Serve this vibrant and nutritious stir-fry over rice or noodles for a satisfying and wholesome meal.

Buying and Storing Celeriac

Not sure what a great celeriac looks like when you see them at the supermarket? Choose celeriac with a smooth, unblemished skin and a solid texture. The smaller roots tend to be sweeter and more tender. Avoid any roots with soft spots or signs of decay.

Celeriac can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to two weeks. Keep it unwashed and place it in a perforated plastic bag or wrapped in a damp cloth to maintain its freshness. Alternatively, you can store peeled and cut celeriac in a bowl of water in the refrigerator for a few days.

To prepare celeriac, begin by cutting off the top and bottom. With a sharp knife, carefully remove the tough outer skin, revealing the creamy white flesh underneath. Once peeled, celeriac can be grated, sliced, cubed, or mashed.

How to Cook Celeriac FAQs

When choosing celeriac, look for roots that are firm and heavy for their size. Avoid those with soft spots, blemishes, or signs of decay. The skin should be smooth and free from mould. Opt for smaller celeriac roots, as they tend to be sweeter and have a more tender texture.

Yes, celeriac can be enjoyed raw! It adds a refreshing and crunchy element to salads and slaws. Simply peel the celeriac, then grate or julienne it to incorporate it into your raw dishes. Its unique flavor pairs well with citrusy dressings or creamy dips.

To peel celeriac, first cut off the top and bottom of the root. Then, using a sharp knife, carefully remove the rough outer skin, exposing the creamy flesh beneath. Once peeled, celeriac can be sliced, diced, grated, or cubed based on your desired recipe.

Yes, you can freeze celeriac, but it’s best to blanch it before freezing to maintain its quality. Peel and cut the celeriac into desired shapes, then blanch it in boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Plunge the blanched celeriac into ice water to cool, drain it thoroughly, and pack it into airtight freezer bags or containers. Properly frozen, celeriac can be stored for up to 8-12 months.

Celeriac’s versatility allows for various creative uses. You can make a creamy celeriac soup, mash it with potatoes for a flavorful twist on traditional mashed potatoes, use it as a substitute for potatoes in gratins, or incorporate it into roasted vegetable medleys. Additionally, celeriac can be sliced into fries, used in stir-fries, or grated for adding crunch to salads. Don’t be afraid to experiment and discover new ways to savour the unique taste of celeriac in your favorite dishes!