Celeriac is mostly known as a root used to flavor stocks or soups. However, it is a wonderful ingredient on its own right, and an amazing alternative to potato. It can be eaten raw, pickled, shredded to a tasty salad, or cooked in various ways.
The recipe here is once again from the fabulous Sephardic cuisine. (To learn more about it, check out the introduction to THIS POST). The dish is part of every Sephardic household for generations, and is served on its own as a tasty appetizer course, as side dish, or as a salad.
As with most dishes in Sephardic cooking, the idea is to let the main ingredient shine and not mask it with too many other ingredients. The dish is cooked gently, letting the celeriac absorb the flavors of the lemon, salt, sugar and olive oil, and at the same time develop its distinctive yet subtle celery flavor.
Cooking it in one layer, without stirring, is the key to the beautiful transformation of color from opaque-white to translucent, and to keeping the pieces shape.
The dish is at its best the day after cooking, so make sure to prepare it ahead of time. Once you’ll prepare it, you’d be amazed by the silky-smooth texture and delicate flavor that such a simple preparation can produce. Patience is the key here, and I’m sure you’ll find out that the reward is well worth it.
Note: when choosing celeriac root, make sure to choose a plump and heavy one. The small roots are not suitable for this dish.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35-40 minutes
Chilling time: overnight
1 large, plump and heavy celeriac
1 medium carrot
1½ cups water + more if needed
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs salt
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1. Cut the celeriac into 4 pieces and peel. Cut each quarter into thick slices (0.4”, 1cm). Peel and cut the carrot to the same thickness.
2. In a wide pot, add the water, lemon juice, sugar and salt, and mix to dissolve. Add the celeriac slices, in one layer, and place the carrot slices on top. If the water doesn’t slightly cover the pieces (but not more than that), add a bit more water. Pour the olive oil on top.
3. Cover the pot and bring to a gentle boil on a medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 25 minutes.
Uncover the pot and keep cooking for 10-15 minutes, until the celeriac is translucent and the sauce reduces and thickens a bit.
4. Bring to room temperature. Cover and place in the fridge overnight.
Serve the next day, at room temperature.