Toos’s daughter helping on the farm picking celeriac
Known also as celery root or turnip celery, this is a vegetable is a Mediterranean staple but slower to be loved here in the UK. But root veg seems to be having a moment this year – the sweet flavours released in chips, crisps and roasted wedges.
We have two celeriac growers…outdoor grown and left to mature in rich soil from Worthing and Biodynamic Organically grown celeriac from Toos in Cuckfield. Take your pick…
Either way, fresh celeriac is so much nicer than the shrinkwrapped supermarket varieties where the freshness has been lost, leaving only a dry bitterness – no wonder so many people don’t like the flavour.
Why we should make the most of it
Celery, as a veg, is obviously low fat and high fibre but also contains B Vitamins and a healthy supply of minerals to support your immune system.
Sadly, when we looked up a description – it was described as a ‘garnish for fine dining’… what a relegation for a veg that was even named by Homer in his Odyssey!
Celeriac is a good keep but don’t let it dry out. Wrap in a dampened paper towel to keep fresh – although you can still cook it when it is older, but it loses the fresh potent flavour.
When you use it, it can discolour quickly, so drop into a bowl of water with a dash of lemon juice or white wine vinegar.
Fine to freeze – Peel and chop into usable chunk sizes about 3cms or so. Blanch by cooking in boiling water for around 2 mins. Plunge into cold water immediately to prevent from further cooking.
Lay the celeriac on a tray and freeze in a single layer. That way when you transfer the frozen celeriac to a freezer back, they won’t stick together.
Ideas for Partnering
- Mashed as a substitute for potato – mash with cream and pears for added sweetness. In fact, pears are a perfect partner for all forms of celeriac – gratins and roasts.
- Try Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s celeriac ice cream with walnut praline. It sounds like it would be absolutely delicious with a nutty Mastic flavour? We will let you know when we’ve tried it!
- Cook with fennel and puy lentils for a layered aniseed flavour.
- Cook with game, pork or duck – the flavours partner well with richer meats.
- Try more celery based desserts with Sat Bains’ Candied Vegetable Bread and Butter pudding or the exquisitely sounding Thyme meringue, Lemon curd, celery sorbet with celeriac crisps.
Roast Celeriac Wedges with Walnut and Kale Pesto
Serve the celeriac with the pesto spooned on top, or serve it alongside.
6 as a side dish
- 750g celeriac, peeled and cut into wedges
- extra-virgin olive oil
For the pesto:
- 200g kale, stalks removed and discarded
- 50g pecorino, grated
- 65g walnuts, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
- 10g parsley, leaves only
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 150ml extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Line a roasting tin with foil or parchment and spread out the celeriac wedges in a single layer.
Toss the wedges in some olive oil and seasoning. Roast for 40-45 minutes, until the wedges are tender and golden at the edges.
Meanwhile make the pesto. Cook the kale in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and put into very cold water so the colour stays bright. When the kale is cool, drain it again and shake out the water.
Keep back half of the pecorino and half the walnuts. Put the rest of the ingredients – except for the oil – into a food processor and pulse-blend, while you add the oil in a steady stream. You want a mixture that has texture so be sure not to blitz it too much.
Stir in the rest of the walnuts and the cheese and taste for seasoning. Serve the celeriac with the pesto spooned on top, or serve it alongside.