Please note: Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer. The Orthodox Union makes no endorsements or representations regarding kashrut certification of various products/vendors referred to in her articles, blog or web site.
Once upon a time there was a vegetable with an identity crisis. Some called the veggie celeriac, others, celery root. Oddly, both sides of the debate are correct. No matter what name you call it this very unattractive-looking root vegetable that has more wrinkles than a Shar Pei, you need to know that the effort it will take to peel it is so worth it.
Like so many other root vegetables, celeriac is a chameleon. By “chameleon” I mean that this mellow tasting vegetable takes on and enhances the flavors of the herbs and spices of any dish into which it’s incorporated. Independently, it tastes as if celery and parsley got married and had a delicious baby.
Celery root is pretty much available year round. A fresh celery root should feel firm and heavy for its size. Because of all the little nooks and crannies, no matter how much you peel it, you won’t get it totally smooth. Using a paring or chef’s knife, trim until the entire brown exterior is removed – that is good enough. It will store for several weeks in the refrigerator.
Celery root can be eaten raw or cooked, cubed, shredded or diced, and in everything from salads, soups and stews to potatoes or cauliflower; it will make mashed vegetable combination that is sublime. The following recipes are all just a little bit different than your usual fare – and are totally worth the time the peeling will take.
ROASTED CELERIC AND ROSEMARY (pareve)
2 pounds celery root, cut into cubes 3 tablespoon oil, olive 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper, cracked black 2 teaspoon fresh rosemary 1 lb. baby carrots 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 325. In a large bowl, combine celery root, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper, and the rosemary; toss until coated. Spoon celery root a greased 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes. While the celery root is cooking in a bowl combine the carrots, the remaining olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and the balsamic vinegar; toss until coated. Add the carrots to baking pan with the celery root. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the vegetables are cooked but still crunchy. Remove from the oven, toss to combine and serve. Serves 6 to 8. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.
TOMATO AND CELERIAC LASAGNA (dairy)
3 lbs celery root, peeled and sliced thin (use a mandolin or vegetable slicer) 2 tablespoons lemon juice Kosher salt 2 cups tomato sauce 3/4 cup whipping cream 1 tablespoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon dried basil 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese Salt and pepper to taste 3 tomatoes, sliced and seeded 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 400. Grease a 9X13 baking dish aside and set it. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water, lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of salt to a boil. Add the celery root. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Drain pressing out the excess water. Dry on paper towels. In a saucepan, combine the tomato sauce, oregano, basil, cream and salt and pepper to taste. Heat to a simmer. Layer 1/3 of the celery root on the bottom of the greased 9X13 dish. Spoon 1/3 cup of the tomato sauce and 1/3 cup of the parmesan cheese on top of the tomato sauce. Repeat two more times ending with the tomato sauce. Place the sliced tomatoes over top of the parmesan cheese and then sprinkle the grated mozzarella cheese on top. (The dish can be prepared up to this point and refrigerated overnight. Bring the lasagna to room temp before. Bake 40 to 50 minutes. The top should be golden and bubbly. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting. Serves 6 to 8. Modified from tastytidbits.com
CELERIAC SALAD (pareve)
1 medium celery root, peeled, sliced into match stick pieces (use a food processor) 1/2 teaspoon salt Juice from 1/2 lemon 2 teaspoons chopped celery leaves and/or parsley 2 apples, quartered, cored, and sliced into 1/8-inch slices 1/3 cup toasted pecans
Vinaigrette: Juice from 1/2 lemon, about 4 teaspoons 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 1 teaspoon mustard 1 1/2 tablespoons walnut oil 4 tablespoons oil Additional salt, lemon, and freshly ground pepper to taste
In bowl combine the celeriac with 1/2 teaspoon salt and the juice from 1/2 lemon. Place a sheet of plastic or parchment directly on the matchsticks, and place a weighted object on top of that (try using a water-filled bowl). Let sit for 1/2 hour or more (this will tenderize the celery root).
Whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, and mustard. Then whisk in the oils. Whisk in oils. (Note: This will make more vinaigrette than needed for the salad. Save the dressing for other salads.) When ready to serve, drain the celeriac, squeezing a bit. Place in a bowl with the apples and the celery leaves/parsley. Toss with 2 to 3 tablespoons of vinaigrette. Adjust seasoning with additional salt, lemon and/or freshly ground pepper. Sprinkle salad with pecan and serve.
Modified from a recipe by Sara Dickerman
TURKEY CELERIAC SALAD (meat)
1/2 cup plain yogurt or mayonnaise 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 1 large celery root, peeled, julienned (about 3 cups) 2 tart green apples, peeled and chopped 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 small fennel bulb, cored and chopped into thin julienne (about ½ cup) 1 small red onion, sliced into thin strips (about 1/3 cup) 1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries 1/2 cup pecans, toasted 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped 3 cups cooked turkey; cut into bite sized pieces (you can use deli meat) Salt and pepper to taste
In a small bowl combine the yogurt and Dijon mustard and set aside.Cut the celery root into thin julienne and then place it in a large bowl. Add the chopped apples and one tablespoon of the lemon juice to the celery root and apple mixture and toss to coat. Add the sliced fennel, sliced red onion, dried cranberries, pecans and whole parsley. .Add the yogurt and mustard dressing and mix to coat. Season with salt and pepper.Add the turkey and mix to coat. Refrigerate for 1/2 hour to let the flavors mix.
Modified from a recipe by Chef Amy Topel
MOCK SEAFOOD AND CELERY ROOT SALAD
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise 1 hard cooked egg, grated 2 tablespoons finely minced green onions 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley Salt and pepper Lemon juice to taste 2 cups kosher mock crab 1 to 1 1/2 cups peeled, julienned celery root 4 cups mixed salad greens 2 hard cooked eggs, quartered
In a bowl combine the mayonnaise, grated egg, green onion, and parsley. Mix to combine then season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. In a serving bowl, combine the sea food and celery root. Add enough of the dressing to coat the seafood mixture and mix to coat. Season with a little more salt and pepper. Divide greens between 4 small plates, top with lobster mixture, garnish with quartered eggs, and serve with extra dressing on the side.
Modified from a James Beard recipe
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Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer who was born and raised in the Chicago area. She graduated from Indiana University and the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris. She lectures on various food-related topics across the U.S. and Canada and writes weekly columns for the Chicago Jewish News, kosher.com and the OU Shabbat Shalom Website. She is the author of the Perfectly Pareve Cookbook (Feldheim) and is a contributing writer for the Chicken Soup for the Soul Book Group, Chicago Sun Times, Detroit Free Press and Woman’s World Magazine. You can visit Eileen’s blog by clicking: Cuisine by Eileen.