Kiss a frog
Jan. 26, 2012
By Kim Dannies
Often called a celery root, celeriac will never be confused with its pretty cousin, true celery. So what if this bulbous dome, dotted by dangling hairy rootlets and dirt-filled crevices, is the geek boy at the dance? A quick shower and shave with a sharp peeler will soon reveal its princely flesh.
Celeriac delivers character and a bracing clean flavor: a cross between parsley and celery, only deeper, softer and slightly sweet. Shred it, roast it, puree it — celeriac adds a creamy volume, nutrition and flavor to dishes while remaining discreet. We’re talking marriage material here, people.
When the word gets out, celeriac will be winter’s hit veggie, showing up at parties everywhere. Eaters will wonder aloud why a particular dish of yours is so outrageously delicious. Go ahead, enjoy a quiet affair with this understated hero. You won’t regret it.
CELERIAC SALAD WITH AIOLI
Peel one large knob of celery root and rinse. Shred raw root in a food processor or grate by hand. You’ll be rewarded with mounds of snow white, crunchy slaw. Place in a prep bowl.
Aioli: in a small processor, finely mince 3-4 garlic cloves. Add 1 heaping tablespoon of Dijon mustard, the juice of a lemon, 1-cup of mayo, 1 tablespoon tomato paste and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Process 30 seconds. Adjust seasoning with kosher salt. Fold the aioli over the celery root. Top with several handfuls of clean flat-leaf parsley. Serve immediately, or store in fridge up to one day ahead; serves 4-6.
CREAMY POTATO AND CELERIAC SOUP
Peel 6 medium red potatoes and cut into quarters. Peel one celeriac root and shred. Place all the veggies in a cooking pot and cover with vegetable or chicken stock. Add 6 whole garlic cloves and 1 medium chopped onion. Cover and bring to a full boil on high heat, then simmer the soup for 20 minutes until potatoes are very soft. Warm 1 1/2cups of low fat milk with 2 tablespoons of sherry and 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave, on high, for 1 minute. Mash the potatoes and add the milk mixture. Puree the soup until it is smooth. Adjust flavor with kosher salt and pepper. Serves 6-8.
Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three 20-something daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.