There is one thing you cannot do with celeriac, and that is to leave it out in the air once you peeled it because it quickly discolours. But if you put it in a bowl of water with a bit of lemon juice or white wine vinegar, whole, diced, sliced, chopped, grated or cut julienne it can wait for you to prepare great dishes in the kitchen.
The wonderful celeriac, a milder variety of celery, is extremely versatile and nutritious. Once you overcome the task of peeling, washing and immersing it in acidulated water you are half way there. You can almost do everything with the root of celeriac, be it a plain mash, creamed with salted butter and any spice of your choice for your roast or fish; a layered bake in white or red tomato sauces; a heart-warming soup; an alternative roast vegetable to parsnip or; a quick and simple stir fry with celeriac diced, chopped or grated. Its aroma is subtle but has enough depth so you don’t need to over spice or flavour it.
Celeriac makes a great accompaniment to beef, lamb, duck, white or smoked fish, scallops and loves bacon and spicy sausages, such as chorizo and merguez. It goes well with sage, dill, parsley and mint; and sits beautifully with milky and creamy sauces and dressings. You go as far as trying delicious (vegan) curries with coconut milk, fenugreek and turmeric if you are a spice explorer in the kitchen. Celeriac fritters work well as the vegetable takes other flavours on well; thin celeriac chips in tempura batter is a delicious beer snack, and recently when I was reading Nopi, the brand new Ottolenghi book, I came across one of the easiest ways to cook celeriac, after washing it well, trimming it, leaving the skin on and baking it for three hours in a medium hot oven! I kid you not, the possibilities are endless.
So when you come across the celeriac root in your October Riverside Market Garden Box (which of course I strongly recommend you order with no hesitation) don’t be phased by it. Start by chopping off its bottom root, and trim its hairy and nobly bits off fearlessly whilst peeling it with a small sharp knife or peeler of your choice. Use a vegetable brush to wash the mud and grit off well before immersing in acidulated water.
The two recipes below can start you off and are both are inspired by and use seasonal in my October Riverside Market Garden vegetable box. There is a quick salad and a soup suggestion rather different than the usual celeriac recipes you could google. Enjoy!
Riverside Garden raw celeriac and apple salad with Greek yoghurt remoulade dressing
Ingredients (4 portions)
- 200g celeriac, peeled in ribbons or cut julienne (small sticks)
- 1 red apple, sliced of cut julienne
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 small bunch of mint, coarsely chopped
For the dressing
- 200g Greek yoghurt
- 1.5 teaspoons mustard or mustard powder
- 1 handful of capers, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 big pinches of salt
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
- Trim, peel, brush and chop the celeriac.
- Place in acidulated water with either a squeeze of lemon or a tablespoon of white wine vinegar.
- Halve or quarter the apple, removing the core and chop or slice julienne.
- Mix the apple and celeriac and dress with the tablespoon of vinegar.
- To prepare the yoghurt remoulade mix the ingredients for the dressing and season to taste.
- Either mix the dressing on the ingredients or place on top, sprinkling it with the mint.
- 1 small celeriac is around 200g- don’t worry too much about accuracy measurement, you can use more or less than that in your salad.
- Gherkins are a fine replacement for capers.
- If you have ready-made piccalilli you can use that to flavour your yogurt dressing.
- This salad is delicious with toasted walnuts, smoked salmon or haddock, and roast lamb.
Riverside Garden Celeriac and Beetroot soup
Ingredients (4 portions)
- 200g celeriac, chopped
- 200g mixed beetroot, chopped
- 200g potato, chopped
- 100g red split lentils (optional)
- 1 leek
- 3 spring onions or half a dry onion
- 2 bay leaves (preferable but optional if you don’t have)
- A small bouquet of fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- Olive oil
- Salt to season
- Handful of finely chopped capers
- Apple slices
- Toasted cumin and caraway seeds
Preparation (45 minutes)
- Peel and chop all the vegetable, and follow the celeriac preparation tips as in previous recipe.
- Sauté the leek, onion and bay leaves (if you are using) in a bit of olive oil (2-3 tablespoons) with a pinch of salt until translucent.
- Add the chopped vegetable and lentils (if you are using).
- Stir fry for 5 minutes and coat well in the oil.
- Add the stock and thyme, and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaves and thyme stacks (if you are using fresh thyme bouquet).
- Season to taste if needed.
- Cream with a hand blender if you prefer a creamy soup.
- Serve with a pinch of chopped capers, some sliced apple and a sprinkle of toasted cumin & caraway seeds.
- Don’t worry about exact weighting of vegetable. You roughly require 1/3 of each vegetable in equal amounts.
- I strongly recommend using of bay leaves but if you don’t have them thyme or other herbs will do fine.
- Blending the soup results in a nice consistent colour but you don’t have to.
- Use more cumin than caraway seeds. Caraway complements beetroot beautifully but can be overpowering. Sprinkle with caution.
- Pear is also delicious with this soup if you don’t fancy apple. It’s all in season anyway!
Beetroot …. its colour is vivid, its name is like an eclectic type of music to dance to, its taste earthy but versatile and adaptable. Deeply influenced by Tom Robbins’ novel ‘Jitterbug perfume’ I have developed this strong belief that beets help build physical, emotional and mental resilience, they feed warriors and lovers, they make you stronger, protect and empower you. I am besotted with this root veg!
This September the beetroot at the two farmers’ markets in Cardiff is gigantic, earthy but deliciously sweet. So make sure you grab some from the local stalls either at Roath or Riverside-don’t miss out on its autumnal delight.
Last weekend golden beetroot was the star guest ingredient of a sweet balsamic vinaigrette salad at our art and dining supper club. A few weeks ago, in the first few weeks of September, a beetroot and carrot soup with caraway seeds warmed us up when the weather suddenly turned cold. And only yesterday I concocted a Moorish , colourful beetroot dip, which I urge you to try making without reservation. Enjoy the recipe below.
Enough for at least 8 starter portions
- 500g mixed or red beetroots washed well but not peeled
- 500gr Greek strained yoghurt
- 200gr feta cheese
- 30gr chives
- 2 cloves of garlic, crashed
- 2 t paprika
- 1/2 t cayenne pepper
- 1 T white wine vinegar
- enough olive oil to make dip smooth (about 1/2 cup)
- salt and pepper
- Roast the beetroot in a hot oven until soft for around forty minutes.
- Whilst the beetroot are roasting prepare a paprika and chive yoghurt dip.
- Cream the feta cheese with one-third of the olive oil and the vinegar in a food processor (pulse) or in a deep bowl with a spoon.
- Add the chopped chives , the crashed garlic , the paprika and cayenne pepper . If added to a food processor pulse again.
- Smoothen the cheese base by adding all the Greek yoghurt. Add another third of the olive oil and stir well.
- Remove from the food processor.
- Try a bit of the yoghurt base and adjust seasoning according to taste.
- After the beetroot is roasted and soft enough allow it to cool enough to peel the skin.
- Cream the beetroot in a food processor or chop and mash in a bowl with a fork.
- Add the yoghurt dip and as much oil as needs to make it blend well (you might not need any more).
- Taste and adjust the seasoning of required.
- Serve with carrots, celery or breads.