Give this underused root veg a little love over the festive season, with new recipe ideas from Rosie Birkett
Rosie Birkett’s celeriac recipes
Celeriac is a true wonder ingredient. I get so genuinely excited when it comes into season, I’ve been known to stand in the middle of the greengrocer’s, blissfully inhaling its scent like a mother sniffing her newborn’s head. And you should, too. Get excited I mean, rather than the sniffing – or do both.
While it might look gnarly and unapproachable, once you get past its craggy, bulbous exterior, the pearly flesh of celeriac makes it one of the most versatile and delicious vegetables we have. The first time I ever tried it was as a child on a family camping holiday to France. My mum brought out a packet of it finely julienned, laced with mayonnaise, from a local shop, and we ate it on crusty French bread with juicy rotisserie chicken. It had such an unusual but utterly addictive flavour, I have never looked back. As well as being brilliant raw in a classic remoulade, or shaved into salads, you can use it in so many different ways, from poaching and puréeing for soups and sides, to frying to a crisp (as in my hash brown recipe, p72). It’s one thing that makes winter that little bit more bearable and, while peeling it is a pain, it’s well worth the effort for the unusual nutty, almost truffle-esque flavour it brings. Celeriac is part of the carrot family and a close relation of leaf celery – it’s a special variety grown for its root. You should always keep an eye out at the greengrocer for celeriac that still have their green shoots of celery attached, being a good sign of freshness and smaller-scale production. Nutritionally, it’s a winner as well, full of dietary fibre, antioxidants and minerals and it’s low carb, so a lighter yet satisfying alternative to the starches we crave in the colder months. That said, there are few things that go as nicely with celeriac as brown butter – as if you needed any more reasons to love it.
ALSO IN SEASON apples beetroot cabbage chestnuts chicory endives forced rhubarb Jerusalem artichokes kale leeks parsnips pears quinces red cabbage romanesco salsify scorzonera sloes swede
Good Food contributing editor Rosie Birkett is a food writer and stylist, and a regular on BBC One’s Saturday Kitchen. Her cookbook, A Lot on Her Plate, is out now (£25, Hardie Grant). @Rosiefoodie