One recent snowy afternoon I discovered the subtle yet bright notes of celeriac (also known as celery root) while picking up our winter farm share. In less than one month, celeriac has become a staple in the kitchen. After falling hard and fast for this rather bristly root, it’s difficult to imagine how I ever lived without it. The root shines in soup stock, fresh carrot, apple, and ginger juice, potato puree, and potato gratin to name just a few ideas.
Milder and less herbaceous than celery stalks, the root is dense, fleshy, and wrapped in roots and toughened skin. The skin must be peeled and the ends sliced off before peeling the rough exterior. Once peeled, sink the root in water to prevent it from browning.
Celery Root and Potato Puree
Adapted from Chez Panisse Vegetables, by Alice Waters
Yield 6-8 servings
3 pounds red potatoes
1 celery root
1/2 stick unsalted butter (or soy margarine)
a scant 1 cup milk (such as 2%, whole or soy)
1 tablespoon olive oil
white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
Peel the potatoes and cut them into large chunks. Place the potatoes in a large pot. Cover with water, add a dash of salt, bring to a boil, and cook until soft when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Drain.
Peel the celery root and cut into 1-inch cubes. Put it into a saucepan with 1/2 stick of butter and 1 Tsb. of olive oil along with enough water to almost cover. Cook, covered for 20-25 minutes or until the celery root is close to pureed. Add more water if it begins to stick to the pan.
Gently heat the milk or cream in another saucepan. Combine the cooked celery root and potatoes. Add the warm milk slowly until it reaches the desired consistency. Puree with a stick blender. Add salt and pepper and a splash of white wine vinegar. Taste. Adjust seasonings and add more softened butter if necessary.