Celery root, or celeriac, the knobby, pitted root vegetable related to common celery, is Mediterranean in origin. First introduced to the United States in the early 19th century, it has only recently become commonly available here. Though not particularly beautiful, it is fantastically versatile. The rhizome’s punchy, herbal flavor and crunchy texture shines when it’s added raw to salads; when cooked, its mellow earthiness accentuates other vegetables for complex, hearty soups and purées. Aromatic and capable of retaining its own identity in tandem with stronger flavors, celery root is a fantastic accompaniment to roasted or braised meats.
HOW TO BUY
Celeriac is sold both with and without stalks; it is freshest when the stalks are still intact. Look for globular roots to minimize waste in prep, and feel for heaviness, a sign of freshness.
HOW TO STORE
Celeriac keeps amazingly well in a cool, dry environment, much like onions and potatoes. It will keep in the fridge, wrapped loosely in plastic, for several weeks.
HOW TO PREPARE
Trim and save the stalks for use in broths and stocks; one or two suffice, since their flavor is stronger than that of common celery. The leaves can be sliced thinly and used for garnish, like other fresh herbs. To prepare the bulb, scrub it with a brush, trim the ends, quarter, and peel.