Hello Celery Root

Celery Root
Poor celery root. It's such an ugly and awkward vegetable that sprouts twisted hairy roots and its skin is pimpled, dimpled and rough to the touch.  It sits there uncomfortably and awkward in a frumpy pile in the produce aisle, neighbor to some beautifully glossy eggplants that are neatly stacked and perfectly organized.  For the past twenty or so odd years I avoided this vegetable and its ugly stare and to that I owe it an apology.

Celery root, I'm sorry.

Up close and personal with this ugly vegetable
I'm sorry I passed you up.  You and your knobby, pale exterior I carelessly wrote you off; assuming that there was no way you could be delicious.  Had I stopped to breath in your sweet earthy aroma I might have been tipped off...shame on me. Smelling like a cross between early spring, a fresh stalk of celery and just a hint of anise, it's a welcoming scent that leaves you anxiously anticipating a taste. When cut in half, celery root has a texture vaguely reminiscent of a damp wine cork.  Tough and fibrous with sandy swirls disturbing its bright white interior, it's quite the unique vegetable.  

Celery Root and Potato Puree
To prepare the celery root, I simmered it in a pot of salted water with a chopped up Yukon Gold potato and a bay leaf to help remind it to keep its natural earthiness.  Once it was fork tender and slightly lighter in color, I pureed it and added a couple generous drops of black truffle oil, tangy Dijon mustard and salt and pepper to help tie it all together and make the flavors pop in all the right ways.  

If you haven't had much experience with celery root, I encourage you to give it a try. As a puree, it is buttery smooth and yielding a natural, subtle sweetness that makes celery root puree a fantastic seasonal upgrade for the familiar mashed potato, without being too far removed and foreign.

Celery Root and Potato Puree
Serves 2 with some leftover

- 1 celery root, peeled and cubed
- 1 large Yukon Gold potato, scrubbed and peeled and cubed
- 1 bay leaf, broken in half
- Water for boiling
- 1 TBS Dijon mustard
- 1 TBS unsalted butter
- A generous splash of chicken stock or broth
- 1 tsp black truffle oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste, plus salt for the boiling water

Start by placing the potato and celery root cubes into a pot and just cover them with cold, salted water.  Add the broken bay leaf and bring the pot to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are very tender.  Drain the potatoes and celery root once done and put into a big bowl. Discard of the bay leaf. Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture just until smooth. (If you don't have an immersion blender you can use a food processor, mixer or blender) Add the butter and mustard and stir in just enough chicken stock or broth until the mixture resembles a texture of smooth mashed potatoes.  Finish with the truffle oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately while still warm.  


dan said...

I find that no matter how long I boil celery root, I never get that "buttery smooth" texture. What am I doing wrong?

The Small Boston Kitchen said...

Dan - Without knowing exactly what you're doing it's hard for me to say what you might be doing wrong. I did first try to run the celery root through a ricer but wasn't really successful so I used my immersion blender to help out. What have you been using to break down the celery root and how much salt do you use when doing that?

Megan said...

One of my first blog posts ever was about celery root!! It is pretty ugly, but it's good stuff. I made a celery root soup.

Alicia said...

I used celery root to make a soup also. I would have never tried it based on appearance, but it showed up in my Boston Organics delivery once and I didn't want to waste it! I need to try it again in a puree like this!

Fun and Fearless in Beantown said...

I've never worked with celery root but have to agree that it is a pretty un-glamorous ingredient. Your puree looks great!

dan said...

Hmm, dont remember exactly what I did, I think I tried just mashing them, and ended up using a food processor

Molly said...

This sounds really good. I have a celery root skordalia recipe I've been meaning to post. Thanks for the reminder about this great but very ugly vegetable.

Jen said...

Your back! Glad to see the writers block is gone. I've never prepared celery root but I love seeing it on menus.

Integrated Feezer said...

My stomach really starting to starved as I see this delicious recipe. Can I copy this one? I want to try this at home. I'm looking forward for more recipes in your blog.

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