Photo Credit: A. Kane
What tastes like a stalk of celery, minus the stringy, fibrous texture? Celery root. It’s that knobby, dusty, wholly unattractive root that you may have seen at the grocery store near the potatoes, turnips and rutabagas. That root has a delicate flavor, a creamy texture, and would definitely make a wonderful side dish to your next meal.
Celery and celery root (sometimes called celeriac) are varieties of the same plant, but are in fact, two different vegetables. Celery root is not simply the part of the plant that grows underground. A true winter vegetable, the best celery root is not even available until late fall, and once picked it has an extremely long cellar-life.
In France they make a popular side salad called celery root rémoulade. The root is peeled, julienned into very fine strips, and doused in a mustardy mayonnaise. But I am a purist; give me a vegetable in close to its natural state, and I will be happy! The recipe that I have for you today is for a luscious potato and celery root purée. It is simple, nourishing, and delicious.
In this recipe I use a waxy potato. A Yukon Gold is ideal; it’s sweeter and has enough body to stand up to the simmering process. I also simmer the potato and the celery root in a mixture of water and milk. Then, I use the same liquid to make the purée. This makes the dish soft and sumptuous, without the addition of cream. Perhaps this recipe will become yet another way to enjoy mashed potatoes in your house.
Potato and Celery Root Purée
1 medium sized celery root, the size of a grapefruit, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup of water
4 medium sized Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
¾ cup milk
1-2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
In a medium sized saucepan, put the celery root, and the water. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and the milk and bring to a boil. Season with salt, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook with the lid of the saucepan partially on for 15 minutes. Remove the lid entirely, and continue to cook for 5 minutes. It is okay if milk gets frothy. Celery root and potatoes should be softened at this point, and the vegetables should be falling apart.
Remove from heat and with a hand-masher, mash the ingredients well. Taste, and season with salt and pepper, and 1 tablespoon of butter. Upon serving, top with additional tablespoon of butter, if desired.