Celery root, or celeriac, is available in supermarkets all year long, but is younger and fresher in the fall. You can find celeriac with the green celery stalks and leaves still attached, and it's a good sign if the roots are fresh. At this time of year, celeriac smells like wet soil and is lighter in color than later in the season.
Celery root is a must in my chicken soup, and I’ve posted a few recipes over the years for other favorites, such as this celery root and Swiss chard spoon bread and a creamy soup of celery root and parsnip with roasted garlic.
Now, I want to go back to a centuries-old Sephardic recipe, called apio in Ladino, of cooked cel-ery or celery root in lemon juice. This dish, served at room temperature, is traditionally made for the Passover Seder, but since young celery roots are available now I wouldn't wait until spring.
Some versions of this simple yet delicious dish include carrots as well, and most also call for sugar. My version includes purple baby potatoes for a purple-orange salad.
Celeriac’s versatility is demonstrated in the second recipe below, of roasted celery root salad with celery stalks, hazelnuts and Parmesan in mustard vinaigrette.
Here's to the beginning of the most delicious season of the year!
Celery root, carrot and baby potato salad (apio)
This traditional Sephardic dish combines celery root and carrots. Baby potatoes are an optional addition.
- 2 celery roots
- 6 carrots
- 1 1/2 lbs. (680 grams) purple baby potatoes (or any baby potatoes)
- 1/2 cup corn or vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Bring salted water to a boil in a pot to cook the potatoes.
- To peel the celery root, cut off its top and bottom. Place root on its bottom, and using a sharp knife, cut off peel from top to bottom, following the shape of the root. Repeat with the second root, and wash roots to remove remaining dirt. Slice roots in half, cut each half into three wedges, and then cut each wedge into thin slices. Place in a bowl.
- Peel carrots and slice. Add to celery roots.
- Wash potatoes, and slice with skin on into 1/4-inch slices. Cook in salted water until just fork tender. Strain and place aside in a large serving bowl.
- Pour oil into a pot over medium-high heat. Add sliced celery roots and carrots, and fry while stirring for 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup boiling water, lemon juice, sugar and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook for about 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Pour cooked vegetables over cooked potatoes, mix gently and let sit until the salad reaches room temperature. Mix gently, adjust salt to taste and serve.
Salad of celery root, stalks and leaves with hazelnuts and parmesan
Although young celery roots come with their stalks and leaves attached, they tend to be bitter and stringy. Instead, I use the common celery, preferably its inner stalks and leaves.
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts, preferably roasted
- 2 celery roots
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 bunch celery, light green stalks and leaves only
- 1/2 cup shaved parmesan
For the dressing
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- To roast the hazelnuts: Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Put hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 20-22 minutes, until dark golden in color. Shake baking sheet a couple of times during toasting. Set aside to completely cool down, then chop. If hazelnuts are preroasted, skip this step.
- Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius).
- To peel the celery root, cut off its top and bottom. Place root on its bottom, and using a sharp knife, cut off peel from top to bottom, following the shape of the root. Repeat with the second root and wash roots to remove dirt. Dice roots into 1/2-inch (1 cm.) cubes and transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with cumin, coriander and salt and mix. Add olive oil and mix again until covered with oil. Transfer to a large baking sheet, and arrange the celery root cubes in a single layer. Roast for about 25 minutes, flipping once, until tender. Set aside to cool.
- Slice celery stalks, keeping leaves whole.
- Mix all dressing ingredients.
- When ready to serve, mix celery root, stalks and leaves with dressing. Top with chopped hazelnuts and shaved parmesan.
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