I love farmers’ markets and grocery stores with amazing produce departments. I’d rather wander around jicama, daikon radishes and bok choy instead of clothing or shoes any day. Well, maybe not shoes.
I first encountered celery root during a shopping expedition at my (somewhat) local Harris Teeter – the closest thing I have to amazing produce. Its ugliness spoke to me.
Celery root, also known as celeriac, contains much less starch (and therefore has fewer carbs) than other root vegetables. It tastes faintly of celery and takes on other flavors present in a dish when cooked with other ingredients. Celery root won’t win any vegetable beauty contests and is challenging to peel, but it’s worth the effort. After removing the greenery, use the same approach you would use to peel a fresh pineapple: cut a small slab off each end, set one of the flat ends on a cutting board and use a knife to peel off the tough outer skin from top to bottom in strips. After peeling, cut the celery root into disks, then into strips, then dice.
This dish features celery root, potatoes and apples. Add a bit of unsweetened apple cider, preferably from a local orchard, and a touch of fat-free half and half. You’ll have the texture of mashed potatoes combined with the sweetness of apples plus a hint of celery that will blow you away when you serve it alongside your next pork roast.
How I Modified the Recipe
The Barefoot Contessa’s original recipe called for a whole stick of butter (yikes!), no olive oil and ¼ cup heavy cream instead of the fat-free half and half. She also added a cup of diced fennel (bulb only) with the other vegetables. I have nothing against fennel, I just couldn’t find it at my grocery store.
If you are watching your sodium, skip the added salt. If you are watching saturated fat, skip the butter entirely and use a bit more olive oil.
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
1½ lbs celery root, peeled and diced
8 oz Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced (about 2 medium potatoes)
3 medium Gala apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 tsp Kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ cup apple cider or apple juice (no added sugar)
2 Tbsp fat-free half and half
In a large saucepan (or small stock pot), warm butter and olive oil over medium heat until butter melts. Add celery root, potatoes, apples, salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
Add cider or juice and cover pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are soft, about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally; if mixture seems dry, add more apple juice or cider. Once vegetables are soft, if mixture seems too soupy for mashed potatoes, increase heat and cook, uncovered, for about 5 minutes to let some of the liquid evaporate.
Add half and half and cook for another minute or so. Remove from heat and mash with potato masher or put through a food mill. Serve warm.
Makes 6 servings
Per serving: 177 calories, 7g fat (2g sat), 5mg cholesterol, 511mg sodium, 33g carb, 4g fiber, 9g sugar, 3g protein