Currabinny Cooks: The ugly vegetable that leads to beautiful dishes

Currabinny Cooks: The ugly vegetable that leads to beautiful dishes

Kobbly, caked in dried earth, warted, whiskered and strange. The celeriac is at first sight, probably one of the ugliest vegetables there is, even amongst other less than beautiful winter roots like parsnip and swedes.

Often sold in supermarkets rather puzzlingly wrapped in plastic, adding further to its alarming appearance celeriac seems wholly unappetising.

As the name suggests, the celeriac is a member of the celery family and upon tasting will give you a little of that particularly celery-like flavour but in a more subtle gentler way.

The celeriac, however, has so much more to offer underneath the whiskers and tendrils and calloused skin.

Peel back or hack away the rough exterior and you will be rewarded with a perfectly unblemished, pale flesh.

The faint aroma of celery greets you and the opportunities of just what to do with such a thing will start to reveal themselves to you. Treat it just like any other winter root vegetable, roast it, toss it in a soup or casserole, theceleriac will give you its gentle aroma and blend in well to most dishes.

The recipes we have included here however are all about celebrating the humble, mysterious celeriac.

When shopping for aceleriac, don’t be put off by how gnarled or earth-encrusted one is, what you are looking for is a nice heavy one as this is a sign of freshness. The olderceleriac will have lost moisture and thus be on the lighter side.

Celeriac has a lovely mild, celery-like flavour, but earthier and nuttier giving far more depth and intrigue than a stalk ofcelery could offer. These qualities make the celeriac a perfect ingredient for balancing out hearty winter roasts, giving you something refreshing and gentle.

When eaten raw, be sure to marinade it in an acid or sugar so as to stop the flesh turning brown and slice it very thinly or grate it.

Celeriac, Apple & Red Cabbage Slaw

Currabinny Cooks: The ugly vegetable that leads to beautiful dishes

A good slaw is a thing of beauty. Slaw is a great all round accompaniment for all kinds of meat, especially pork and chicken, It also goes great stuffed in a sandwich with said leftover meat. There is also so much to play around with in a slaw, being basically just dressed shredded vegetables. Summer slaws can be made with all kinds of cabbages, kales, scallions, peas and can often feature the addition of fruit, whatever is in season really as long as the result is bright, crunchy, refreshing and light. In these winter months, however, we can indulge in a more robust approach to the slaw. This one using celeriac has all the crunch you would expect from the cabbage and celeriac, refreshingly sweet and tart elements from the apple with an added hearty background heat from the mustard and cider vinegar.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 of a small red cabbage, shredded thinly
  • 1/2 medium small celeriac
  • 1 tart green apple
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • A large bunch of freshflat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
  • Sea salt & crackedblack pepper

Method:

Shred the red cabbage using a sharp knife into nice thin pieces. With the celeriac, use a good strong box grater to shred or alternatively you can slice the celeriac into thin ‘matchstick’ pieces.

Cut the apple in half, no need to peel it. Core it, quarter it and then slice into thin slivers using a sharp fruit knife.

Place the cabbage, celeriac and apple in a large bowl. Squeeze over the juice of half a lemon, season with sea salt.

Add parsley, cider vinegar, olive oil, mustard and pepper mixing well to combine. Serve in a nice bowl as an accompaniment to meat like Pork or chicken.

Lemony Celeriac Mash

Currabinny Cooks: The ugly vegetable that leads to beautiful dishes

We have played around a lot over the years with making a good celeriac mash which can rival the likes of potato, carrot or parsnip in the mashed root vegetable category. The problem is that celeriac, whilst looking like a heavy, hardy, starchy root is actually rather light and delicate.

Instead of treating it like a parsnip or potato which have their own natural starchy heaviness, we tend to work withceleriac’s more tender qualities.

Lemon juice to bring out the bright savoury celery-like flavours, mustard to add a little warmth and finally a good dollop of tart creme fraiche stirred through giving it a much needed creamy, silkytexture. Paired with a good hearty roast, mashed celeriac is often our preferred choice.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium celeriac
  • 60g butter
  • 2 tablespoons of creme fraiche
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Sea salt & black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of grain mustard

Method:

Peel the celeriac using a sharp knife or good strong peeler. Cut the celeriac into 2-3 cm chunks and place in a medium saucepan. Add just enough water to cover the celeriac, season with sea salt and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until a knife goes easily through the chunks of celeriac.

Drain and return to the pan. Add the butter and mash until you get a nice smooth paste. Stir in the creme friache, lemon juice and mustard until well combined and then check the seasoning,adding more salt and black pepper as needed.

Winter Celeriac Salad with Tahini Mayo

Currabinny Cooks: The ugly vegetable that leads to beautiful dishes

This is a surprisingly elegant salad using rather humble ingredients.

The flavours here are well balanced with vinegary gherkins, cool celeriac, salty smokey dillisk and the toasted garlicky nuttiness of the tahini dressing.

This salad goes great with cold meats but also fish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small celeriac
  • 2 tablespoons of apple juice
  • 5-6 small gherkins, sliced thinly
  • Small handful of parsley
  • 4-5 small radishes, sliced thin
  • 10g dried Dillisk (dulse seaweed)
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 50g tahini
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Juice 1/2 lemon
  • Cold water to loosen
  • Sea salt & black pepper

Method:

Peel the celeriac, quarter it and using a nice sharp knife, cut into thin slivers. Alternatively you can use a good peeler to get the slivers.

Place in a bowl or on a plate and dribble over the 2 tablespoons of apple juice. Leave to the side while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Place the dillisk in a glass of cold water for around 10 minutes until well reconstituted. Cut into thin strips. We often find using a kitchen scissors is best for this.

To make the tahini dressing, combine the tahini, crushed garlic, olive oil and lemon juice in a small bowl. Mix well to combine and add just enough cold water, while you stir to make a smooth loose dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Arrange the celeriac, dillisk, sliced gherkins and radishes on a serving plate and drizzle over the tahini dressing to serve.

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