It wasn't until I lived in France that I fully appreciated how underused celeriac — also called celery root — is here in the US.
In France, this knobby root cousin of the celery we are more familiar with is used in soups, as a puree, raw in salads, as well as in a typical French slaw-like dish called "celeri remoulade."
Celery root imparts a celery-like flavour that softens when cooked. In purees (peel, cube, boil and mash), try pairing it with other tubers, such as a potato or yam, to balance out the celery flavour. Raw, celeriac works best when thinly sliced, julienned or grated.
In the produce aisle, look for a bumpy small globe about the size of a large softball. Sometimes the flavourful (but fibrous) stalks are attached, which can be cut off and used as an aromatic, primarily for building flavour in broths or braising liquids.
Celery root is a good source of filling fiber and vitamin C, but the big nutritional selling point is the amount of vitamin K packed into this ugly little veggie, with just one serving giving us about half our daily requirement. Vitamin K gets woefully little air time, but it plays an important role in blood and bone health. And don't forget the very basic benefit of trying new things, which keeps eaters engaged and meals interesting.
In my celery root and chipotle remoulade slaw, I've added some smoky spice and tart apples because I love the way the grassy celery flavour balances sweet heat. But feel free to play with flavours in the spirit of building produce-aisle fluency.
CELERY ROOT AND CHIPOTLE REMOULADE SLAW
Start to finish: 20 minutes
3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
3 tablespoons plain low-fat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 to 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder, to taste
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1-pound celery root
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 small Granny Smith apple, cored and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 scallion, finely chopped
In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, lemon juice and chili powder. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside.
Use a paring knife or sturdy vegetable peeler to remove the skin of the celery root, then use the large side of a box grater to grate the root. Place the grated celery root in a large bowl and toss immediately with the dressing; this helps prevent the celery root from discoloring. Add the capers, apple, dill and scallion, then toss well. Serve.
Nutrition information per serving: 70 calories; 15 calories from fat (21 per cent of total calories); 2 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 14 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 2 g protein; 360 mg sodium.
Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook, "Supermarket Healthy." http://www.melissadarabian.net