Slice Of Life

By Eileen Goltz

One of the ugliest vegetables known to man is celeriac, a.k.a. celery root. Big, hairy, knobby, and ridiculously difficult to peel, it’s actually a fun and delicious vegetable to serve during Pesach. Celeriac is the root of the celery, but specific varieties have been cultivated to produce large root balls with smaller stalks. The ugly exterior hides a mild, delicious celery-like flavor that acts like a potato when you cook it.

When you pick up a celery root, it should feel heavy for its size. The stalks at the top should be fresh, bright green, and absolutely not slimy or wilted. Celery root is extremely difficult to peel because it’s covered with roots and has lots of nooks and crannies just waiting to defy your paring knife. No matter how hard you look, you won’t find a smooth one–so stop looking.

You can get your Pesach on with the following super-easy recipes and know that they’re great anytime of the year.


Celeriac Gratin

Dairy

Serves 6—8

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. butter or margarine

1 Tbsp. finely chopped green onions

1 Tbsp. minced garlic

½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. heavy cream

¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp. milk

2 tsp. salt

½ tsp. black pepper

pinch of nutmeg

2 large celery roots, peeled and sliced no more than ¼-inch thick

3 parsnips, peeled and sliced no more than ¼-inch thick

â…“ cup plus 2 Tbsp. sour cream

½ cup grated mozzarella cheese

¼ cup grated pepper jack cheese

2 Tbsp. matzah meal (you can use bread crumbs during the rest of the year)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450°F. In a skillet, heat the butter and sauté the onions and garlic for about 2 minutes. Add the cream, milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then remove from heat and set it aside to cool.

Grease a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate, spread one-third cup of the sour cream, and then with a slight overlap, place a layer of parsnips and then a layer of celery root. Spoon 3 tablespoons of the cream mixture over the two layers; repeat the process until you’ve used up all the celeriac and parsnip. Cover the top layer with parchment paper, then cover that with aluminum foil (make sure the foil is on tight). Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 40—45 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Remove the foil and parchment, spread the remaining sour cream over the top, and sprinkle the cheeses and matzah meal over the top. Bake uncovered for 20—30 minutes until the top is browned. Let set for 3—5 minutes before serving.


Sweet Potato
Celeriac Hash

Meat

Serves 4—6

Ingredients:

1 large celery root (celeriac), peeled, cut into ½-inch pieces

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into ½-inch pieces

1 tsp. dried thyme (you can use fresh)

1 bay leaf

1 cup vegetable or chicken broth

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 large sweet onion, sliced

1 tsp. minced garlic

kosher salt and lots of ground pepper

½ cup turkey-pastrami or salami, cut into smallish bite-size pieces

4—5 green onions, sliced thin

Directions:

In a large skillet, heat the oil, sauté the celery root and sweet potatoes for about 2 minutes, then add the thyme, bay leaf, and chicken broth. Mix to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables start to soften and liquid is gone (about 15—20 minutes). Add the onion and garlic; mix to combine. Season with salt and black pepper and cook, scraping any browned on the bottom of the pan into the mix until the vegetables are soft, about 25—30 more minutes. Remove the bay leaf, add the turkey-pastrami or salami, mix to combine, and serve topped with the green onions.


Apple And Celery Soup

Pareve or meat

Serves 6—8

Ingredients:

¼ cup margarine

1 large celery root cut into ½-inch pieces

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into ½-inch cubes

1½ cups chopped onion

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

½ cup sliced green onions

2 Tbsp. olive oil

sunflower seeds

salt and pepper

Directions:

In a stockpot, sauté the celery root, apples, and onion in the margarine. Over low-medium heat, cook the apples and celery root for about 15 minutes (do not brown, just soften), stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes. Add the broth, bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20—25 minutes. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Using an immersion blender or regular blender, purée the soup. Return the soup to the heat, bring to a simmer, and season with salt and pepper.

Can be made one day ahead. To serve, heat and spoon into bowls and top with green onions and sunflower seeds.


Honey-Roasted Celeriac

Pareve or dairy

Serves 4—6

Ingredients:

1 celeriac root, peeled and cut into ¾-inch pieces

4 Yukon Gold potatoes

½ cup olive oil

6 sprigs of fresh rosemary (2 chopped)

â…“ cup honey

¼ cup margarine or butter, melted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425°F. In a bowl, combine the celeriac, potatoes, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and add 4 sprigs of rosemary. Mix and then place them on a cookie sheet with sides. Cook for 25—30 minutes until the pieces are golden and fork-tender. Just before the vegetables are done, combine the honey, chopped rosemary, and melted margarine in a bowl. Just before serving, drizzle the mixture over the vegetables in the pan. Mix to coat, and serve. v

© Eileen Goltz

Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher foods writer. She graduated from Indiana University and the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris. She lectures on various food-related topics across the U.S. and Canada and writes columns for the CJN in Chicago, kosherscoop.com, and the OU Shabbat Shalom website, www.ou.org. She also wrote the Perfectly Pareve Cookbook (Feldheim).

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