Getting Back to Our Roots

Celery root, that is.  Aka celeriac.

It’s quite possibly the ugliest most delicious vegetable there is.  A hairy, rugged exterior that makes it look like something you’d have surgically removed disguises a creamy white heart full of mild celery flavor.

I’ve grown celeriac before–it’s a very long season vegetable that is picky about soil fertility and moisture.  It’s enough of a pain that many Northern growers don’t bother–but they should.  Because even if all you get is smallish roots, they’re completely worth it.

You can cube and roast celery root with other veggies, mash it with potatoes, or throw it in a soup or casserole.  You can grate it raw and add it to a slaw.

I got these six roots from Seth at Wooly Bear Farm when I went to pick up my heritage Bourbon Red turkey at HumbleRoots Heritage Farm.  They were offering Thanksgiving share boxes, but my own gardens had supplied much of what was in them.  I just wanted celeriac.

Coupled with carrots, parsley, onion, and garlic, celeriac makes a great homemade bouillon base.  You roast the vegetables slowly with a little oil until they’re completely tender and slightly caramelized, then purée them with a bit of salt and pack the paste in a container and refrigerate (or freeze) to use throughout the winter.

Well, if it lasts that long.  I added some dried sweet red peppers while the mixture was roasting, and when I took it out, the veggies smelled and looked so delicious that I stood there over the stove eating out of the dish.

So, there isn’t a lot left at this point.  I’d thought I would still make bouillon out of the mixture this morning before I headed to the Twin Cities for a meeting, but the roads were bad when I tried to take the dog to the kennel, so I turned around and called to say I wasn’t going to risk it.

Staying home means these veggies will probably end up in a soup instead.  I have a nubbin of German sausage and a bowl of sweet corn left over from last Friday night’s supper that could go into the pot as well.

With a little thyme and maybe the drainings of a bottle of white wine, I could have a nice steaming meal and use up the leftovers at the same time.

I need to do that because I’ll be heading off for Thanksgiving in a couple of days with my big heritage turkey, and I hope to return with leftovers from that meal.  At the very least, I’ll abscond with the picked-clean carcass and make another soup when I get back.

Local ingredients: celeriac, carrots, sweet peppers, onions, garlic, sweet corn, German sausage.  And the turkey, waiting outside in a cooler because it won’t fit in the fridge!


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