Give this un­der­used root veg a lit­tle love over the fes­tive sea­son, with new recipe ideas from Rosie Bir­kett

BBC Good Food - - Contents -

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

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