If there was an award for the ugliest vegetable, I have a strong suspicion that the celery root would be a likely winner…that is if anybody remembered enough to think of celery root as a vegetable, let alone know what it looks like. I don’t know which is worse, being an unattractive vegetable or being completely forgotten about altogether.
It almost makes me feel sorry for the vegetable. Celery root is like the vegetable version of the kid who always gets picked last onto teams, gets made fun of by the bullies, frequently drops his books while walking to class or stumbles over his untied shoelace, and is never given an opportunity to really shine. I mean, tell me that doesn’t pull at your heartstrings a tiny bit and make you want to go out and buy a celery root. :)
The truth is, I hadn’t given celery root the slightest bit of attention until a couple weeks ago when I was giving a grocery store tour. On almost every store tour, I challenge the listeners to branch out from their “safe” produce — you know, the carrots, mixed greens, apples, and bananas — and try a new vegetable or fruit, perhaps a new one once a month. It helps build variety into our diets, adds different colors to our plates, and keeps us from getting stuck in a rut. Plus, it’s fun to explore! What you may have disliked as a kid, you may really enjoy as an adult (Brussel sprouts, I’m looking at you!).
Well, not minutes after I had challenged my group to try new produce, one of the ladies looked up at the wall of fresh vegetables and asked what celery root tasted like and how to eat it. Hmm, good question. I honestly didn’t know much about celery root except that it wasn’t actually the root of the celery we’re familiar with and assumed it could be cooked similar to parsnips or turnips. And I certainly had never eaten it before…or at least was unaware of it if I had.
I felt like I needed to give this knobby, gangly vegetable a try — if only to do what I preach. And to know how to answer the next time I got that same question. :)
So, the result? After some research, I bring to you Roasted Carrots and Celery Root with Thyme. A perfect introduction to the otherwise unknown vegetable. The verdict? Absolutely delicious and flavorful! Philip was scooping it up off the pan by the spoonful. #winning
By the way, if you’re also wondering what celery root is and how to eat it, this is what I learned:
- After peeling the outer layer, the root can be shredded or sliced and eaten raw in salads for a mild, sweet flavor similar to carrots or celery. It does turn brown quickly, so sprinkle with lemon juice to keep from oxidizing.
- Other names for the root vegetable include celeriac or celery knob. It is in fact in the celery family, but is not the same as the celery you’re most familiar with.
- It’s common to eat cooked celery root mashed like mashed potatoes or pureed in soups.
Roasting celery root is a nice, hands off way to cook the celery root and brings out the natural sweetness of the vegetable. Paired with the carrots, this easy side is a perfect balance of sweetness. The addition of thyme and freshly ground pepper adds a nice depth of flavor. No salt needed! Leave it to say, celery root will no longer be a forgotten vegetable in the produce section in my eyes anymore. If you want to try something besides potatoes for a side, I’d suggest celery root as a nice alternative.
I don’t know why I hadn’t given celery root a try before now, but am so glad I have inquisitive clients to keep me trying new things. It all goes to show, never judge a book by it’s cover. ;) I extend my challenge to you, my loyal readers — perhaps jot down celery root on your grocery list this week? :) If you do, leave a comment below and let me know! I’d love to hear from you.
Roasted Carrot and Celery Root with Thyme
- 2 pounds celery root (about 2 small celery roots), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 4 – 5 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme, or to taste
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Spread celery root and carrots out evenly on baking sheet. Toss the celery root and carrots with the olive oil. Season with the thyme and ground pepper, to taste.
- Roast in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and toss the vegetables. Spread vegetables out evenly and return to oven, if needed, until vegetables are tender.
Note: Cooking times may be slightly longer or shorter, depending on the exact size of the celery root and carrot chunks.