Celeriac brunch

A celeriac (or celery root) came in our veggie box this week.  Celeriac is a variety of celery that has been bred for better eating roots (as opposed to cultivated for the celery stalks).  The roots mass together to form a bulb that looks a bit luck a hairy, ugly turnip.

It’s one ugly looking vegetable.

Celeriac has a celery / parsnipy / parsley-ish taste to it.  Although that description doesn’t do it justice.  I find celery a bit ho-hum (it’s no wonder it has been used in decades gone by as a vessel for scoffing large quantities of cream cheese and peanut butter under the guise of a “healthy” snack), and something that really bugs me about celery is how those fibrous strings stay connected to the other piece when I bite into it raw.  Celery for me is just something I add to soups and stews.  It’s a cheap filler.  It’s dispensable.

Photo and recipe from http://www.recipe.com

The flesh of a celeriac, however, has a much nicer texture than celery.  It’s less watery, almost creamy and there are none of those annoying fibrous strings.  It can be used pretty much like any root vegetable (although it has a lot less starch than a potato – a good substitute if you are wanting a lower starch alternative).  Roast it, mash it, fry it or stick it in a soup or stew.  Unlike potato, it can also be eaten raw.  The French use celeriac in céleri rémoulade a salad where it is grated, soaked in lemon juice and dressed with mayonnaise and mustard.

Photo and a great looking recipe (that includes capers) from http://www.croquecamille.wordpress.com

My original plan was to cook our celeriac up earlier in the week as part of my husband’s birthday roast dinner but I ran out of room in the pan.

Jose’s birthday roast dinner. Pork ribs, carrot, sweet potato and golden beetroot already had the pan full (the brussel sprouts and broccoli were cooked on the stove).

So, what to do with my rejected celeriac?  Last night the kids had already been fed leftovers and put to bed.  My husband was out of town and I felt like a bit of lazy fry up.  I decided to hash brown my celeriac and have brunch for dinner.

I peeled and grated the bulb and added about the same amount of grated potato and half an onion.  Cracked in an egg to combine the mix and seasoned with salt and pepper.

It’s easier to use a sharp veggie knife than a peeler to to remove the thick skin, gnarled roots and hairy stuff.  Some varieties are a more uniform shape than others, but I’ve noticed many of the celeriac varieties locally need a lot of cutting and trimming to get all the gnarly bits off.

I scooped a handful of the mix with my hands, squished it flat and pan fried it.  This mix made five decent sized hash browns.

I ate it was a poached egg, brussel sprouts, mushrooms (with sage and thyme) and spinach.  A tomato would have been nice to add some color and juiciness but I ate the last of my tomatoes yesterday.

Breakfast?  Brunch?  Dinner?

These were the tastiest hash browns (even if I say so myself!)  The celeriac is a much more interesting flavour than plain old potato but it didn’t overwhelm the other food.  The hash browns felt lighter than a stodgy potato hash too.  To me this is more of a weekend brunch dish, but it perfectly filled the spot for dinner.

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4 Responses to Celeriac brunch

  1. I’d always wondered what celeriac was. Thank you! I’ve not seen it in our New Zealand supermarkets. I wonder if I might find it at the farmers market. (Maybe not. Hamiltonians can be quite conservative.) What yummy meals – both Jose’s special birthday dinner and your meal-for-one!

    • Apparently Mitre 10 in Hamilton sells (or at least used to sell) the plant as well as Bunnings so you could try there. They should be planted now in Hamilton so it would be a good time to buy for planting. Apparently Nosh Food Market in Hamilton (Ph. 839 0616) also sell (or used to sell) the veggie but it isn’t in season at the moment so they might not have it for maybe another 3 – 4 months? Let me know how you go!

  2. I’ve heard that celery takes more energy to eat than you get from it. I guess that would be those tough strongs you have to chew! Jamie Oliver peels celery to remove the strings. Personally they dont worry me.

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