INGREDIENT OF THE MONTH - Celeriac

This knobbly vegetable may not look much, but we think it’s a proper winter wonder. .

  • Celeriac recipes

History

Also known as turnip-rooted or knob celery, this globular root vegetable has been cultivated in Europe since ancient times - its Greek name selinon is even mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey as early as 800 B.C. As the name would suggest, celeriac is bred from the same plant as wild celery, and it shares a similar aroma (if a little nuttier and milder). Although it’s now widely eaten throughout Europe, this unassuming-looking root isn’t commonly enjoyed in the rest of the world.

Biology

A relative to other roots such as parsnips, anise and carrots, celeriac is larger and hardier than its biological cousin celery. If you fancy growing your own at home, plant in rich, fertile soil with good drainage and access to plenty of sunshine. It’ll be ready to sew in October. Health-wise, celeriac is brilliant if you’re trying to loose weight, as it contains just 14 calories per 100g. The starchy texture makes it a brilliant alternative to potatoes for those cutting down on carbs, too.

Storage & preparation

Be aware that, because of its knobbly exterior, you’re only likely to use three quarters of the weight of any celeriac you buy, as you’ll need to remove the root channels that are interwoven to the base of the bulb. Don’t be afraid to be quite heavy-handed with the peeler (or use a sharp chef’s knife) in order to remove all the brown bits so you’re just left with the smooth, ivory flesh. Celeriac will discolour quickly, so keep in cold salted water until ready to use. If stored in near-freezing conditions, the root will keep for up to six months.

Uses

There are so many uses for this versatile veggie, which can be cooked in milk then mashed along with potato, grated into a wintry coleslaw with carrot, red cabbage and lemon juice, simply roasted with rosemary and thyme or blitzed into soups for a velvety finish. Its bold, peppery taste can stand up to strong flavoured meat such as venison or beef, yet is delicate enough to work with fish or chicken too – a buttery purée is lovely underneath any of the above. It also works well raw: try thin strips in a mustardy mayonnaise for a classic French celeriac remoulade.

WHAT'S GOOD AT THE MOMENT?

Embrace the cold with autumn's earthy offerings

Onions

Probably the most versatile vegetable around, we’d be lost without these beautiful bulbs. From the Alium family, the white, yellow and red varieties are at their best in autumn, when their leaves die and the outer scales become brittle. Many dishes start with the softening of an onion, from soups and stews to risotto, but why not make them the stars of the show with some proper onion rings or classic a French onion soup. Their natural sweetness means they caramelise beautifully, and this is lovely contrasted with cheese (their natural bedfellow) in homemade red onion chutney. Raw onions just need a little rinse to get rid of their harshness before they can add extra texture to Middle-eastern style salads. We also can’t resist a pickled one at the chippy!

Horseradish

Although a jar of horseradish sauce probably lurks at the back of your fridge, many people aren’t used to the fresh stuff. A member of the mustard family, it has a wonderful clean, peppery taste with some serious heat. Try adding a little freshly grated horseradish to some white wine vinegar and salt, then keep in a jar in the fridge for a classic accompaniment to roast beef. Mixed through mascarpone or crème fraiçhe with a little lemon zest for a fiery dip to go with roast vegetables, or add to some softened onions and butter then drizzle over roasted beetroot – the sharpness is a lovely contrast to the earthy beets.


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