Let's face it, celeriac is somewhat of an ugly duckling. If you've seen it in the supermarket, you've maybe stopped to wonder, "what is celeriac?" You've then probably passed it over in search of more conventionally attractive vegetables like the glossy eggplant or the smooth and luscious tomato.  

But the truth is, under that big, hairy exterior is a heart of gold. If you can master the art of cooking with celeriac, you can benefit by adding a low-carb, versatile, and delicious vegetable into your culinary repertoire. 

What is celeriac?

Celeriac is just a fancy word for "celery root." Its scientific name is Apium graveolens, and it's technically the same plant as celery. However, celeriac differs because it is cultivated for its large, bulbous root rather than its stem. 

While celeriac has flown under the radar in American cooking, it has been a staple of European cuisine for centuries. Historically, it was name dropped in Homer's Odyssey and continued on to be a popular ingredient in French cuisine. 

Its biggest claim to fame was when the cool and creamy Celery Root Remoulade was featured in Julia Child's classic cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. 

What does it taste like?

Celeriac is a root vegetable. The taste is similar to a turnip or potato, with an earthy taste, and just a small hint of celery flavor. Celeric's large benefit is its versatility. Like its root vegetable cousins, celeriac easily takes on other flavors and textures depending on how it is cooked. 

Is celeriac a superfood?

Celeriac rarely makes the list of superfoods, but maybe it should! It's high in protein, dietary fiber, and Vitamin C, Vitamin K and various B-vitamins. This translates into a variety of health benefits. The high fiber helps promote better digestive health and lowers the risk of colon cancer. The high vitamin C helps fight the common cold and flu. Instead of a bowl of chicken soup, perhaps this flu season try a hot piping bowl of celeriac soup instead?

What to do with celeriac

Celeriac is not as starchy as the potato, which makes it a popular choice to substitute for potatoes in a lot of low-carb recipes. Examples include baking them into crispy fries, smashing them with herbs, or drenching them in cream and cheese in a gratin.  

Celeriac, like the potato, can also be used to make a delightfully creamy soup. Recipes can range from sweet and earthy in this recipe that includes apples and crème fraîche, to simple in this recipe with garlic that is finished with chile powder. 

Many celeriac lovers also enjoy the taste of raw celeriac. Celeriac can be enjoyed raw in a creamy coleslaw, or to bulk up a simple salad. For the celeriac super-fan, roasting it whole with minimal spices allows its true flavor to shine through. 

Despite its cosmetic imperfections, celeriac is a vegetable packed with nutrients that can easily be transformed into crispy fries, creamy soup, and other mouthwatering dishes.

The next time you're in the grocery store, consider selecting a vegetable whose taste, versatility, and health benefits are more than skin deep. You won't regret giving celeriac a chance.