One of my favorite vegetables, especially in the winter is celery root, also known as celeriac. This is not to be confused
with plain old celery, although they are very close cousins. This rather unruly root belongs to the Apiaceae family, which includes
carrots, fennel, and parsnip. Other common names are knob celery, or turnip-rooted celery.
You have probably seen a celery root in the market and like most people, stared at it, noted how weird it looks with its
rough texture and knobby bottom, and walked away. Well, hopefully after reading this, you will pick one up next time you go shopping
and bring it home to enjoy with your family or friends. For underneath its strange facade, is a hidden gem that offers a starchy satisfaction,
delicate celery flavor, plus plenty of nutritional goodies that will make a potato turn green with envy.
Celery Root Nutrition
- Celeriac is very low in calories. 100 grams only contain 42 calories, while a potato has 77 calories. The former can also boast more fiber.
- Since celery root belongs the Apiaceae family of vegetables, it contains many antioxidants common to that family such as falcarinol, falcarindiol, panaxydiol, and methyl-falcarindiol.
- Those very same tongue-twisting, cross-eyed making antioxidant compounds offer anti-cancer protection; especially against colon cancer.
- Celeriac is very a good source of vitamin K. 100 g equals 30% of the recommended daily intake. Vitamin-K is an important nutrient for bone health as well as
heart health. With proper intake of vitamin K, calcium is utilized within the skeletal structure (where it belongs), and not absorbed into the arterial network where it can cause deposits within blood vessel walls.
In addition, celery root is a very good source of essential minerals such as phosphorus, iron, calcium, copper, and manganese.
How to Handle a Celeriac
Admittedly, due to its uneven surface, especially on the bottom, peeling a celery root pose challenges and after you have removed all
the fibrous, knobby parts, you may end up with only about half of what you started with! In order words, too much effort, for not a lot of flesh.
However, much of that disappointment can be avoided if you simple put the whole big root in a big pot of boiling water and cook it until it’s tender.
Then, peeling it with a paring knife is super easy, and you can easily negotiate around the nook and crannies. Depending on what you want to use it for,
you can cook it until very tender for a mash or puree, or keep in firm to add to a stew or stir fry, or cut it into strips to add to a salad.
Celery Root and Sweet Potato Mash
1 whole celery root, unpeeled
1 *sweet potato, unpeeled
Celtic sea salt
(Exact quantities are not given with this recipe because celery roots and sweet potatoes come in different sizes. The ratio should be about 50/50, and use your own good taste to determine the amount of salt, pepper, and butter.)
* If you want your mash to look like mashed potatoes, get the Japanese or Hannah sweet potatoes as they have a creamy-beige interior.
Jewels or Garnets have orange-red interiors.
(By the way, what we call “yams” in this country are actually sweet potatoes.)
1) Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
2) Put the whole celery root and sweet potato into the pot, making sure that they are both covered to the top with water. Add in more water if needed.
3) Place the cover onto the pot, slightly ajar to allow stream to escape.
4) Boil until both are very tender. The sweet potato will cook a little quicker than the celery root, so check the done-ness with a paring knife.
5) Peel both roots when they are ready. (You may want to run them under cold water so that it’s easier to handle.)
6) Rough cut the peeled roots and place the chunks into a large bowl, or back into the pot (minus the water, of course).
7) Add in a good hunk of butter, or olive oil, and mash until the whole thing is well mixed and, well mashed.
(You can also place the chucks into a food processor. The mash will be very smooth, and more starchy done this way.)
8) Season with *Celtic sea salt and pepper, to taste.
If the mash has cooled off too much, simply place in a heat proof dish and reheat in the oven until nice and hot. Serve with more butter melted on top
or additional drizzles of extra olive virgin oil.
* I love Celtic sea salt, but you can use other high-quality sea salt. Please avoid common table salt as it tastes bad, and is also bad for your health!
More about salt on my next post.
For love of food and friends,
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