Celery root, also known as celeric, is not a vegetable one would ordinarily call beautiful. But as an ardent vegetable lover, I find beauty in just about every veggie I have ever had the pleasure to meet and eat. Celery root, in all of its rugged brown, hairy glory, is no exception.
As its name suggests, celery root is a relative of common celery, although you wouldn’t know by looking at it. In botanical circles it belongs to the Apiaceae family, which is also populated by carrots, parsnips, dill, anise, fennel, and of course, celery.
The fact that it is a challenge to peel the rough exterior of this vegetable to get to the pearly white, celery-like flavor interior does not make it any more endearing. In fact, I confess I have been lazy: I’ve cut unpeeled celery root bulbs into quarters, steamed them, and then scooped out the yummy insides with a spoon. However, if you want to include celery root in a recipe, you will need to peel it. Recipes are at the end of this article.
Introduction to celery root
First, I’d like to tell you a few things about this root vegetable. When in the market for celeric, look for bulbs that are heavy for their size and as smooth as possible. The smoothness is for ease of peeling and not taste, so don’t worry if you can’t find relatively smooth bulbs.
The leaves and stalks may or may not be attached, and if they are, choose those that look fresh and not dried. Remove the leaves and stalks when you get home. The leaves are edible.
Because it is a root veggie, celeric can be safely stored for months in a dark, cool place (the refrigerator is fine) as long as you don’t let it dry out. Once you are ready to use it, get out a sharp serrated knife and have at it! Remove all the hairy brown parts. It doesn’t matter if the end result isn’t pretty—and it won’t be. But it is delicious just the same.
Before I get to a few easy-to-prepare recipes, it’s worth mentioning the nutritional value of celery root.
- Celery root contains many antioxidants, including falcarinol, falcarindiol, panaxydiol, and methyl-falcarindiol, which reportedly may offer some anti-cancer benefits
- 1 cup of celery root pieces contains 42 calories, 2 grams of fiber, no fat, and 1 gram of protein
- Celery root is good for people with diabetes, as it rates only a 3 on the glycemic index
- When it comes to vitamins and minerals, 1 cup of celery root provides 10% of phosphorus, 9% of daily vitamin C, and 8% of vitamin B6 and potassium.
Celery root can be eaten raw or cooked. Once you peel the veggie:
- Shred it to include raw in salads, as a garnish on soups or sandwiches, or in coleslaw
- Cut raw celery root into sticks like you would carrots and use in a raw vegetable tray with dips
- Boil or steam it and cut into cubes to add to a root vegetable medley or soup or mash it like potatoes
- You can add chopped celery root leaves to salads or soups
- Try one of these recipes
Celery Root Mash (4-6 servings)
2 medium sweet potatoes
2 medium russet potatoes
2 small celery roots
½ cup almond or rice beverage, plain
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and black pepper to taste
Peel the potatoes and celery root and cut into chunks. Boil in salted water until soft. Hand mash or use a food processor. Stir in the almond beverage, minced garlic, and seasoning. Mix or puree in a food processor to desired creaminess.
Celery Root Soup (4 servings)
1.5 lb celery root, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium red onion, sliced thin
½ cup cooked white beans
2 cups vegetable broth
8 oz water
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
Saute the onion and garlic in a sauce pan with spray oil until slightly tender. Add the celery root, broth, and water and simmer for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, saute the mushrooms in a pan with spray oil. Place the soup in a food processor or blender along with the beans and puree. Return to pan and add the sautéed mushrooms.