Monday, March 5, 2012

From Very Humble Roots

I was going to do a sketch of this vegetable for you but I decided that a photo was necessary— you’d never believe how ugly this céleri-rave is unless you saw the real thing (some English translations: celeriac, celery root and knob celery).

This veggie was new to me when I came across it here in France. In food, what’s unusual to one is quite ordinary to another. Maybe this is how it is for you with céleri-rave. Food familiarity often comes from what our mothers liked and knew how to cook. And regional preferences; I never saw céleri-rave when I was a kid in New England or later on, in New York. I wasn’t looking for one so maybe it was right under my nose and I ignored it. You can’t blame me— look at it!

(top and bottom)

Poor céleri-rave! Not blessed with a pleasing physical appearance it has to make up with a surprising taste and texture. And to add to the surprise and perhaps to lessen the competition, it appears in the markets in the right season, winter.

Now what do you do with it? You have to cut off the outer layer and you get this:

Then you julienne it in the food processor and get this:

Isn’t it pretty now?! It went from a dirty knobby root to a fluffy white cloud.
Then you peel and cut up a pink grapefruit. Zesty!

Add a little lemon juice. I use a non-fat goat milk yogurt (but you could use any type) as the dressing.

This is a winter delight. Cool and refreshing and packed with sunshine. My teenager loves it too. And it's very low-cal. From humble beginnings we get fantastic results. Just need to look past the first impressions.

And while I’m preparing this (takes about 15 minutes), I think about all the times I’ve worked on a painting or a story and thought, Wow, this is bad. This is ugly. What was I thinking? But I hung in there, cut something here, added in a little of that and finally pulled it off, much to my own surprise and delight.

Do you know and use céleri-rave? Are you going to try it now?


  1. Cool. I don't think I've ever seen this in American stores.

    1. Hi Hannah,
      I never did either when I lived there. Well, maybe it'll be one of those trendy new foods one day! :)

  2. Amazing transformation! I think I've seen it, and passed by on the other side. Quickly. Maybe I should give it a try.

    Love your analogy to the writing/art process as well.

    1. Hi Beth,

      Thanks! And yes, give it a try. There are other ways of preparing it but this is my favorite.

  3. Oooh that's right down my alley- fresh, simple, healthy and delicious. Can't wait to try it!

  4. I love this, but haven't bought and prepared it myself, so enjoyed your post about it, Dana! Especially like the idea of trying it with pink grapefruit.

    1. Thanks, Joanna! It's a very "sunny" dish which we really need up here in the northwest with these gray winters. You don't need so much additional sun down south but it is tasty. Glad you stopped by!

  5. I love these sorts of simple, knobby, wholesome vegetables! I'll be keeping an eye out for it, or try to grow it myself if I can. :)

  6. Hi Alina,
    If you do grow it, post pictures. I'd love to see it in the garden. Sometimes these root vegetables make beautiful plants.

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  8. I've never tried this myself, though I hear it's good for you. The combination with a fruit sounds unusual. Is the flavour savoury or sweet or something in between?

  9. Hi Sue! It is something in between. The celeri rave isn't sweet but not at all savoury. Some people cook it and for me, that flavor is to strong. Raw, in this salad, it has a little bite to it but it's refreshing not overpowering.