Friday, May 21, 2010
I have to admit that I have always been a bit hesitant to try cooking with celeriac. This rather homely looking root vegetable isn't exactly the showiest item sitting in a bin on a grocer's shelves. It looks a bit more like something you might have dug up from your garden and tossed into the pile of tree branches, rocks, and other unwanted garden bed clutter. It hardly appears edible, and certainly doesn't scream to me "eat me eat me!"
As I was planning out which main dish recipes I wanted to try this past week, it was with an almost glum determination that I decided to finally give celeriac a try. I have actually eaten celeriac before, but only raw in a salad, and only at restaurants. Despite my lack of experience cooking with celeriac, quite a few of the low carb recipes I had been looking at called for this odd little veg, and I thought it might be high time to give it a real chance in my kitchen. I settled on a low carb interpretation of the Spanish tapas recipe, Patatas Bravas, which is usually some form of cubed potatoes tossed in a ruddy colored paprika infused sauce. Obviously, this being a low carb recipe, the potatoes were exchanged for cubed and sauteed celeriac. The recipe I used came from Neris & India's Idiot-Proof Diet Cookbook (page 133).
Basically, you peel and cube a medium sized knob of celeriac, scraping off all of the brown fuzzy bits until it resembles a potato. The skin was a bit stubborn and required a second go around with my vegetable peeler, but otherwise it was not difficult to prep. The next step is to saute the little cubes in some olive oil until they get all golden and tender. Honestly, despite the fact that these smelled nothing like potatoes cooking, they sure did look identical to the real thing. Visually, things were looking up already.
The sauce was a fairly standard patatas bravas red sauce.. a mix of tomatoes, sea salt, garlic, a bit of onion, fresh chili for a little hint of spice, and of course paprika. I have some wonderful smoked paprika that I had brought back with me from a little Spanish imports market on Portobello Road in London, which really helped bring a lot of rich flavor to the dish.
I thought the flavor was pretty good. It wasn't really all that comparable to a plate of authentic patatas bravas, but I still enjoyed it. The celeriac, when cooked this way, took on a very soft and almost creamy texture. I'd love to serve it without the sauce as a side to some eggs, as a healthier alternative to hash browned potatoes. The celeriac tasted much more like a parsnip than a potato however, and my daughter was unfortunately not fooled. She refused to eat more than a few forkfuls. Also, although this was considered a main course recipe in the cookbook I used, I have always thought of this sort of thing as more a starter or perhaps a hearty vegetable side dish.
at 10:18 AM Posted by Heatherfeather