Celeriac, also know as celery root or knob celery, is probably the world’s ugliest vegetable. Okay maybe not THE ugliest but definitely one of the ugliest. But you know that saying don’t judge a book by it’s cover, well that should apply to fruits and vegetables too ( not that they wear covers but you get the point) .
Once you cut away the bumpy, rough, dirty outer layer and cut off the almost woody dry green stalks Celeriac is quite palatable. Celeriac is a type of celery and they are both in the same Apium graveolens rapaceum family. Celery is primarily grown and used for the tall green stalks, where as celeriac is grown for it’s root. Celeriac can be as large as a small cantaloupe or as small as a large potato. What does Celeriac taste like?, it taste like celery. The inside is white, thick and crunchy when you bite into it. Though it is safe to eat the stalks, people don’t because they taste terrible and have a woody textures so they are just discarded. The leaves on both celery and celeriac are also typically discarded.
I buy celeriac to cook in soups and a delicious salad recipe that I will share with you another time. If you do a quick search you will find many recipes using celeriac in soups, as a mash , and I even found an Italian recipe battering and frying celeriac. If you would like some tips on buying, storing and a few recipes I suggest you start here, Veg Box.
Today I want to show you how and why I do not discard the leaves. When I buy both celeriac and celery I will right away remove the leaves. I do this so that I can preserve them and use them as an herb in a lot of my recipes and when I run out of fresh celery. But you can also use the leaves to put in salads, or use like you would a fresh herb.
Start by removing only the leaves from the stalks, then place in a large bowl and cover with cold water and allow to site for a couple of minutes. This soaking is because celery root tend to come with a lot of dirt and this is to assure that all of the dirt is removed from the leaves. The leaves will float to the top, scoop them out and place on a colander and throw out the water they were soaking in. Rinse the bowl and repeat the step one more time. Again place the leaves in a colander and allow to drain for 20 minutes. After they need to be placed on a baking sheet lined with waxed or baking paper.
Now there are to ways to dry them 1. place inside a very-very low heated oven to slowly dry. Do not let them burn. or 2. Leave out to dry in a dry place, and they will dry within 1-2 days. Either way you choose you should turn the leaves a couple of times to ensure even drying.
Once the leaves have completely dried, place inside a blender and pulse for a few seconds to break down. If you would rather leave the leaves whole you may do so. I sometimes just put some of the leaves between my hands and break them up like that, it’s your choice. Store in a dry dark place as you would any other spice.
Next time you run out of celery you can use some of the dried leaves in the recipe and still have the celery taste. Or just add them to any of your recipes as you would any other herb. So next time you buy celeriac or celery you can use almost or all of the vegetable, and that is a nice feeling.