Braving Winter in California…With Celeriac

Mashed Carrot, Celeriac, Potato Snowman

Mmm…I, the Abominable Mashed Carrot, Potato and Celeriac Snowman will eat these sauteed leeks and chard with my skinny thyme stem arms!

Eating locally and seasonally is really important to me. Sure it’s easy in say, August, when tomatoes, summer squash, figs, peppers, eggplant, basil, peaches, grapes, strawberries, blackberries, plums, corn, green beans and cucumber abound. Once the weather gets colder, it can be a bit challenging to stick to that commitment. Luckily our micro-climate in Sonoma County continues to nurture many tasty fruits and veggies all the way through the darkest days of winter.

My latest vegetable find this season is celeriac. I’d never used it before, but Ingrid at Natural Living Cuisine did a post a few weeks ago all about selecting and preparing celeriac, and it piqued my interest. When I saw it at the farmers market, I picked some up, and made a potato, carrot, celeriac mash with fresh thyme. I used the same principles and techniques as my Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Carrot Flecks and Dill. But as usual, I tweaked the “recipe” and used what I had on hand. The potatoes, carrots and celeriac all steamed at about the same rate, (20-30 minutes). So, that simplifies things. With the fresh thyme, it was an incredibly satisfying dish, full of flavor.

Celeriac

Two big celeriac in all their rooty leafy goodness, just asking to be the star of a soup.

If you’ve never cooked with celeriac (otherwise known as celery root) before, it’s available throughout winter and has a tough skin that you need to cut off with a paring knife. It has a very mild celery and parsley flavor that goes well with a wide variety of veggies. We enjoyed it so much, I’ve been buying celeriac every time I see it at the farmers market. I’ve used it in three soups lately.

One was a gorgeous beet, carrot, leek and celeriac soup that was easy and took less than an hour to prepare. At juice bars, my favorite vegetable juice combination is carrot-beet-celery, so I guess this was a little take-off on that winning trio. Another soup, was a sort of minestrone with a couple tablespoons of tomato paste as the base and then cannellini beans (white beans), Israeli couscous (similar to a tiny Italian pasta called fregola), carrots, onions and of course…celeriac.

Celeriac Minestrone Soup

Humble celeriac minestrone warms you through and through.

I am enjoying the fact that celeriac is less starchy than potatoes, and offers a little change of pace in dishes where I might add potatoes to fill it out. Potatoes are so wonderful and have plenty of nutritional benefits (so long as you eat the skin and don’t fry them), but it’s good to get as much nutritional variety as possible.

The most recent celeriac based soup I made was a sort of twist on mushroom barley. We are being careful lately not to eat too much high starch/refined foods, so into the pot went (the best) mushroom broth by Pacific, a small handful of dried wild mushrooms, about 1/3 cup of pearled barley, some carrot, garbanzo beans (for a little protein) and…ta da! Celeriac! It took less than an hour, from prep to my belly, and was very hearty flavorful and nicely finished with some fresh chopped oregano and parsley.

Especially in California, it’s quite easy to get at least some of our food from local farms, but I know people all over the country are deciding it’s an important factor in what they put on the table. It can be a priority in our lives without being a burden of yet another thing to add to the list of “things we know are good for us but don’t do often enough” (flossing, exercising, taking a moment to chat with the neighbors, etc).

19 thoughts on “Braving Winter in California…With Celeriac”

  1. Never heard of this before. I am so thrilled bcos the blogs have opened up a new world foe me. The soup looks amazing.

  2. Vimmi – I’m so glad to hear it! Sometimes I think I’m the last one to find out about great “new” produce, so I’m happy that my find can become yours. Hope you can find some celeriac and try it out.

  3. Terrific post & beautiful photos! I have peeled, steamed and shocked celeriac, then added to tossed green salads.

  4. So, I’m reading this post, drooling over your great photos, wondering “what does this have to do with gluten intolerance?”
    Hah. Joke’s on me. Read your title too fast.
    (And Vimmi, you might know celeriac as celery root.)

  5. JEP – Thanks! Yes, I’ve heard a few people say they use it raw in salads, and of course, it’s big julienned with remoulade. I’ll have to try that out next. Thanks for your comment.

    CookieCrumb – Great to see you.
    Hmmm…Celiac = bad
    Celeriac = good Another occasion when one letter can make a big difference, like the singer Dido ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Dearest Bri, WOW! I was thinking about you just this morning and planning on writing you an email. I just checked NLC and Voila, a comment, from you and what does it lead me to ~ this post starring Celeriac! Boy did you find incredible ways to showcase this fine veggie. I’m proud. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I made a [raw] celeriac soup but it didn’t turn out worthy enough to post. Your celeriac minestrone looks and sounds comforting and yummy, my mom and Hubby wants to make it.

    Ok, was your husband in the kitchen again playing with the food? Love that snowman. BTW, thanks for the mention.

  7. hi bri,

    hahahaha! love the photo. it was 60 degrees in chicago today so i’m happy to see a snowman anywhere!

    i have never tasted celeriac and it frightens me at the store. now though, i will purchase it, unafraid, thanks to your demystifying post. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Tartelette – Yes, I can imagine that remoulade would be your favorite way to eat celeriac. I will have to try that out soon. I think I had it once, but didn’t really know what I was eating, and didn’t fully appreciate it. Thanks for stopping by!

    Ingrid – I have been remiss in emailing lately, but I did get this post together, so that makes up for it, yes? Glad you approve of the soups, even if they are cooked. Actually, I was the one playing with my food this time. I surprised Marc with it and he was thrilled. Your are very welcome for the mention. Gotta give credit where credit is due ๐Ÿ™‚

    Gigi – Glad I could crack you up. It was fun posing the snowman to make him look like he was going to eat the chard (that was Marc’s contribution to playing with our food). Who could be afraid of celeriac now that it’s been posed with skinny thyme stem arms? Plus, you can make it into our beloved mashed potato recipe. Thanks for your comment!

  9. Now that is one cute snowman… and he won’t melt, either! It’s about thyme… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Our local Bistro serves a celery root and apple slaw as a side in the winter… it’s very yummy, though I don’t remember what all is in it. (The chef published the recipe in the paper recently… I hope I remembered to cut it out!)

    Great job again, Bri! ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Yar! The abominable vegetable snowman!

    I love it when my side dish threatens the entree with devouring – it makes dinner so much more exciting! These are wonderful and creative pictures, and an informative post. When we get out of the snowman phase and into warmer weather, celeriac also tastes great grated in a salad.


    Grated Carrot and Celeriac

  11. Jennifer – You and your puns…I’m quite punny too, but unfortunately it’s always inadvertent, so it’s hard to do it in a premeditated written article.
    Ooo, celeriac and apple slaw sounds great (grate?). Thanks for the suggestion. Let me know if you find the recipe. Thanks for dropping by.

    Claire – It sure does make dinner more exciting. Who says we can’t play with our food?! I figure, if you can be clever about it and make me laugh, just about anything goes ๐Ÿ™‚ Your recipe looks grate too ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks for your comment!

  12. Tammy – Thanks for dropping in! We had fun with the snowman, and it’s the only one we’ll see here in Sonoma County. I am now a big fan of celery root. I want to try it out in everything. Well…maybe not everything.

  13. I love that snowman! Who says adults can’t play with their food? I’ve never cooked with celeriac either, but think I will try that recipe soon.

  14. Brilynn – Thanks!

    Cookworm – Thanks! I say adults CAN play with their food…as long as it’s their own plate ๐Ÿ˜‰ I think it’s great to experiment with “new” veggies, especially in the winter when local ones are few and far between.

  15. That is sooo cute!
    Unfortunately, celeriac is not sold here– I think you have to request them specially from the farmer. It doesn’t make sense that celery exists but celeriac doesn’t, right? ๐Ÿ™‚ Now I’m super-curious to see what it tastes like.

  16. Mark – Thanks! Celeriac really is more of a cold weather veg, so it doesn’t surprise me you might not have it. Celery and celery root are in the same family, but aren’t exactly the same plant. Maybe you could ask around and see if anyone might grow it. Thanks for stopping by. ๐Ÿ™‚

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