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