What Is Celeriac and How Do I Use It?

Celeriac may look weird, but its flavor is familiar and its applications in the kitchen are practically endless. It's time to work this quirky root into your vegetable rotation. Here's what you need to know about celeriac (aka celery root).

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Celeriac, or celery root, is one of the unsung heroes of the root vegetable world. It can be eaten raw or cooked, is a terrific substitution for potatoes in many applications and is wonderfully healthful! Whether you want to make a killer mash or a new refreshing salad, it's time to get to know this unique vegetable.

What is celeriac?

Celeriac, often called celery root, is just that, the large root bulb of the celery plant. It is considered a root vegetable, and can be eaten in its raw state or cooked. It features in both classic recipes like celeriac rémoulade, a light salad that is similar to a coleslaw, and modern interpretations like gratins or purees, where it can be used as a lower-carb swap in for potatoes.

What does celeriac taste like?

Celeriac has a mild celery flavor with a refreshing crunch and a little bitterness when raw, and a subtle undertone of sweetness when cooked. If you like radishes and turnips, you will love celeriac raw, and if you enjoy potatoes, you will like the cooked version.

How to select and store celeriac

As with any root vegetable, you want to choose a firm root that feels heavy for its size and does not have soft or bruised patches. Celeriac has a thick outer skin that is often crusted with soil, and may have squiggly roots attached. Keep it in its original state in the crisper drawer of your fridge until you want to prep it for cooking. Kept cold and uncut, celeriac can last for a couple of weeks in your fridge.

What are the health benefits of celeriac?

Celeriac is packed with antioxidants (which can help fight inflammation), vitamins and minerals. When raw, it is an excellent source of vitamin K, as well as vitamin B6, vitamin C, phosphorous, magnesium and calcium. It is low in carbs and high in fiber, which can help support a healthy heart and gut. Also, it is naturally low in fat, making it a light, nutritious and refreshing add to your meal.

How to prep celeriac for cooking

To prepare celeriac, slice both top and bottom off, then remove the thick skin. There is often a line that shows where the tough skin ends and the tender crisp flesh begins, so just follow that line. Once peeled, the celeriac can be grated, or cut into batons or cubes, or diced.

Uses for celeriac

Celeriac is terrific in all sorts of dishes. In salads, raw, it provides excellent crunch and does not wilt quickly, so it is an ideal addition to slaws. Boiled or steamed, it can be pureed very smooth, providing creamy texture to soups or sauces. Roasted, it will brown and crisp on the edges, and get sweeter, making it ideal for any mixed roasted root vegetable dish. Because the texture can be similar to that of potato, it is great in gratins and mashes, but it does not exude starch the way a potato does, so often it is used with some potato to ensure that texture, anywhere from a 1-to-1 ratio to 1-to-4, depending on the dish. And it will retain excellent crunch when cooked hot and fast, so it can be a good addition to stir-fries and sautés. Finally, it makes for interesting pickles, either with other vegetables, as in a giardiniera, or just on its own.

Bottom line

If you have ever looked at that dirty, knobby, alien-looking root in the produce aisle and wondered what on earth it is, celeriac is one new secret weapon for your cooking arsenal that is really worth getting to know. If you want some fun places to start exploring all it can do, try our meat-free Celeriac & Walnut Tacos or luscious Celeriac Soup.

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