7 Ways To Cook With Celeriac—Plus, How To Grow Your Own

Gnarly, knobby, and utterly delicious, this versatile veggie deserves a place of honor in your winter pantry.

January 17, 2017
celeriac
Bobbi Lin

Celeriac is a member of the celery family that’s cultivated for its round, white root, which has a forbidding appearance but a delicate flavor, and which can be eaten raw or cooked. To use the root, peel it with a knife; the uneven surface is too much for most peelers to handle. Once you’ve removed most of the hairy, knobby bits, clean it up with a peeler and give it a good rinse. Don’t worry if there are dark crevices at the bottom where the roots were—they’re not worth peeling away, because you lose too much of the vegetable.

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If you get your hands on freshly dug celeriac, with the green tops still attached, save the tough stalks for stocks and soups (or get creative—one farmer I know uses them as straws for bloody marys). The leaves taste like a more assertive version of regular celery; they’re terrific in soups and salads or ground into a pesto, where their strong flavor shines.

Check out the following celeriac recipes, and then see how you can grow you own!

celeriac soup
Bobbi Lin
Celeriac And Mushroom Soup

This earthy soup is a perfect cold-weather salve. If you can’t find black beluga lentils, French green lentils (Le Puy) will do fine—both hold their shape beautifully. If you have fresh celeriac with the tops still on, use the leaves to garnish the soup, shredding them to mitigate their toughness. Otherwise, use celery leaves, flatleaf parsley, or thyme if you want.

Serves 6–8

1 ounce dried porcini or black trumpet mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced (1 cup)
2 ribs celeriac or celery, diced (¾ cup)
2 small celeriac roots, peeled and cubed (about 3 cups)
½ cup (3½ ounces) beluga lentils
2 sprigs thyme
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 ounces fresh wild mushrooms, such as maitake (hen of the woods), cut into 1" pieces
Celeriac leaves, celery leaves, flatleaf parsley, or thyme leaves, for garnish (optional)

1. Place dried mushrooms in a heatproof liquid measuring cup and pour over enough boiling water to fill to 2-cup mark. Let sit until softened, 10–15 minutes. Remove mushrooms, rinse, and chop. Reserve liquid. 

2. In a wide 4-quart saucepan over medium, heat 1 Tbsp. oil and the butter. Add onion and celeriac ribs; cook, stirring frequently, until very soft, 10–12 minutes.

3. Add celeriac roots, prepared porcini mushrooms, lentils, thyme sprigs, and stock. Pour in mushroom liquid, being careful to leave any grit or sand behind. (As you get near the bottom of the measuring cup, use a spoon to transfer the liquid to avoid including unwanted sediment.) Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until lentils and celeriac root are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove thyme. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high until very hot and add remaining oil. Sear fresh mushrooms until browned and crisp, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Ladle soup into serving bowls and top with browned mushrooms. Serve garnished with leaves.

Related: 16 Warming Soups You Can Cook Once And Eat All Week

Celeriac Pesto
Bobbi Lin
Celeriac-Leaf Pesto

For a creamier dip, skip the cheese and mix the pesto into sour cream or yogurt, to taste.

Makes 1 cup

2 cups loosely packed celeriac leaves
1 cup loosely packed flatleaf parsley leaves
¼ cup whole toasted pumpkin seeds
1 clove garlic
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Thoroughly wash and dry celeriac leaves, then roughly chop.

2. In a food processor, combine with parsley leaves, pumpkin seeds, garlic, salt, and olive oil. Pulse until well blended. Add more oil if needed to thin to desired consistency.

3. Stir in Parmesan cheese.

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Celeriac Fries
Bobbi Lin
Celeriac Oven Fries with Smoked Paprika

Cooked in the oven instead of the fryer, these spiced batons are a delicious substitute for traditional french fries, especially paired with a garlicky celeriac-leaf pesto for dipping.

Serves 4

3 large celeriac roots (about 14 oz. each), peeled and cut into ½-inch sticks
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Celeriac-leaf pesto

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, toss celeriac with oil, paprika, salt, and pepper. 

2. Spread celeriac batons on cookie sheet and bake, turning occasionally, until brown and crisp on all sides, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle with more salt and serve immediately with celeriac-leaf pesto, if using.

celeriac salad
Bobbi Lin
Celeriac Salad with Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts

A mandoline makes it easy to thinly slice celeriac, which takes on a delicate character when prepared this way. If you don’t have a mandoline, cut the root in half to make a stable base, then slice thinly with a knife.

Serves 4

⅓ cup (1½ ounces) hazelnuts
½ cup (4 ounces) Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped flatleaf parsley
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for salad
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more
Pinch of sugar
1 large celeriac root (about 14 ounces), peeled
3 ribs celery, thinly sliced
3 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
Celeriac or celery leaves (optional)

1. Spread hazelnuts on a cookie sheet, place in oven, and set to 375 degrees. Bake until hazelnuts smell nutty and are turning brown, and skins are splitting, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl, cover with a damp dish towel, and let cool. Rub loose skins off and discard; chop nuts coarsely. 

2. Whisk together yogurt, lemon juice, oil, chives, parsley, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and sugar.

3. Using a mandoline or knife, slice celeriac as thinly as possible and then slice into ¾" ribbons. Toss with dressing and let sit for at least 10 minutes to soften slightly, tossing occasionally.

4. Add celery, toss to combine, and add more salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with goat cheese, nuts, and celeriac leaves, if using. Serve immediately.

celeriac chips
Bobbi Lin
Celeriac Chips

Thinly sliced and baked, celeriac root yields earthy chips with a satisfying chew. The exact cooking time will vary depending on how thinly the celeriac is sliced.

Makes about 3 cups

1 large (14 ounces) celeriac root
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1. Heat oven to 275 degrees. Line a few cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. Peel celeriac root and slice as thinly as possible with a mandoline or knife. Coat slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, using your hands to distribute evenly.

3. Lay the slices on the cookie sheets in a single layer and bake about 1 hour and 20 minutes, turning and rearranging occasionally. Remove chips as they brown and crisp, leaving the others to continue baking.

4. Sprinkle with more salt and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

 
 
twice baked celeriac
Bobbi Lin
Twice-Baked Celeriac

This riff on twice-baked potatoes features celeriac purée laced with half-and-half and roasted garlic, stuffed into baked celeriac shells and topped with gooey Gruyére. (Yes, it’s as amazing as it sounds.)

Serves 8

8 large celeriac roots (about 14 ounces each)
4 heads garlic
¼ cup olive oil
2 cups (2 ounces) coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup half-and-half or milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup (1 ounce) coarsely grated Gruyère cheese

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Trim celeriac of any hairy roots, scrub thoroughly using a vegetable brush, and pat dry. Rub celeriac and garlic with oil. Loosely wrap celeriac in a parchment paper–lined foil packet and wrap garlic in a separate packet. Place packets on a cookie sheet and bake 1 hour. Remove garlic and set aside. Continue baking celeriac until very tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 30–60 minutes longer. Remove from oven and cool slightly.

2. Increase heat to 375 degrees. Cut off tops of garlic heads and squeeze out roasted cloves into a food processor. Slice off tops of celeriac and carefully scoop out flesh, leaving a ¼-inch thick shell all around. Transfer flesh to food processor along with Parmesan, half-and-half, butter, thyme, salt, and pepper to taste; purée until very smooth. 

3. Divide mixture among celeriac shells; top with Gruyère. Bake until cheese has started to brown, 40–45 minutes. Serve immediately.

Note: To make ahead, refrigerate the stuffed celeriac for 1–2 days, then top with the cheese and bake as directed, until hot, about 1 hour.

celeriac waffles
Bobbi Lin
Celeriac Waffles

Served with smoked trout, fresh apple, baby arugula, and crème fraîche, these savory waffles work as a hearty brunch or a light dinner. To shred the celeriac, use a box grater or the grating blade of a food processor. 

Serves 6–8

½ cup (4 ounces) crème frâiche
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 large celeriac roots (about 14 ounces each), peeled and grated (4 cups)
Freshly ground black pepper
1½ cups (4 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
2¼ ounces unbleached all-purpose flour (½ cup)
½ cup milk
1 medium shallot, finely chopped (¼ cup)
3 Tbsp. chopped celeriac leaves or flatleaf parsley
4 teaspoons chopped rosemary
Vegetable oil, for greasing
4 ounces smoked trout
4 cups (4 ounces) baby arugula
1 Granny Smith apple, cut into matchsticks

1. In a small bowl, combine crème frâiche, horseradish, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Set aside. 

2. In a medium bowl, toss celeriac roots with ½ teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. In a separate bowl, whisk together Parmesan, eggs, flour, milk, shallot, celeriac leaves, and rosemary. Add to celeriac roots and thoroughly combine.

3. Lightly oil a waffle iron and heat until hot. Spoon a heaping ¼ cup batter onto iron (batter may not go all the way to the edges) and cook until browned and crisp, 3–5 minutes. Serve immediately with crème frâiche mixture, smoked trout, arugula, and apple. (If making ahead, place in a 200 degrees oven to reheat.)

Note: If you don’t have a waffle iron, you can prepare these as pancakes in a medium-hot pan with a little butter or oil.

celeriac
Bobbi Lin
How To Grow Your Own Celeriac

Celeriac, a member of the celery family with a bold spray of dark green leaves and a bulbous, edible root is an unsung hero in the garden. Finding transplants in garden centers is rare, so plan to start from seed. Look for varieties like Monarch, a Royal Horticultural Society award winner; Giant Prague, an heirloom favorite; and Mars, a newer disease-resistant variety.  

Getting Started
Start seeds in late winter, 10 to 12 weeks before last frost. Sow seeds in flats filled with an organic seed-starting mixture, then cover with a 1/8-inch mixture of fine potting soil and vermiculite. Keep flats evenly moist, and don’t fret if seedlings don’t appear immediately—germination can take up to 3 weeks. When seedlings have two sets of true leaves, transfer to individual cell pots. 

In The Garden
Wait to transfer plants outdoors until nighttime temperatures are consistently over 55 degrees. Celeriac prefers rich, well-drained soil, so work in a 1/2-inch layer of mature compost before planting to provide a steady supply of nutrients throughout the growing season. Position plants deep enough to cover the roots, but leave stems uncovered, spacing seedlings 6 to 8 inches apart in rows 18 to 36 inches apart. Keep plants evenly moist, but not wet—water whenever the ground is dry. A light covering of mulch will help maintain soil moisture throughout the summer. Celeriac can be grown in containers, but the shallow-rooted plant is fussy. When seedlings are large enough to transplant, plant in a pot at least 11 inches in diameter. Water regularly, possibly daily, and fertilize at least once every other week. Keep your container out of the wind, and move it into the shade on hot days.

Reaping The Rewards
Harvest your plants in the fall. A light frost will improve celeriac’s flavor, but plants need to be out of the ground before the hard frosts arrive. To harvest, brush soil away from the roots, then gently lift roots out of the soil. A spading fork, similar to a pitchfork, does a nice job. Trim the leafy tops and scrub the bulbs if planning to use immediately. For longer storage, brush off excess soil and immerse in sand-filled boxes in a cool, dark basement. For winter greens, plant a bulb or two in a large clay pot filled with moist sand. Keep the sand evenly watered, and in a few weeks you’ll have fresh celery-flavored stalks for salads.

Related: 6 Absolute Easiest Herbs To Grow Indoors