“There must be a way to eat celery so it doesn’t sound like you’re walking in a basket”

Known since ancient times, celery (sélinon) is mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey, which places it, together with violets, in the garden of Calypso, a nymph passionate about the sea and group dances, while Anacreon and Theocritus report that, at Like laurel, olive and pine, he was busy crowning the winning athletes of the games. Plutarch instead inserts it in the funeral wreaths of the Romans who considered it, with good reason, a not very optimistic vegetable. 

Throughout the Middle Ages it stopped intertwining with other aromas and began to appreciate its medicinal qualities while Jean-Baptiste de la Quintinie, agronomist at the court of Louis XIV, takes it to the kitchen for the preparation of the first dishes based on vegetables, together celeriac, considered, with good reason, no longer an aroma but a real vegetable, which will find greater response and prominence in the regional recipe books.

Today we are talking about celeriac, the lesser known brother of celery. The edible part of celeriac is a root that looks like a tuber; lumpy, spherical and wrinkled, with firm, white and very aromatic pulp. It is a real ally for health as it has very few calories, many fibers, many vitamins, rich in iron, manganese and potassium, rehydrates and reminalizes and finally is an excellent purifying and diuretic.

Autumn is the season that begins the harvest and transformation in the kitchen for the creation of dishes in which it manages to give its best both cooked and raw, especially in Piedmontese, Alessandria and Asti gastronomy. The best known varieties are the Prague giant, the Marble Ball and the Bianco del Veneto, grown mainly in the Veneto and Lazio regions.

The outward appearance does not induce love at first sight, but the celeriac will win you over as soon as it is brought to the kitchen: it is washed and cleaned like a potato. Always keep a lemon close to it as it tends to oxidize if left too much in the open air, a reaction that does not compromise its quality.

“How can you prepare, then? It recently made headlines as it was included, together with beetroot and other vegetables, in borscht, a traditional and iconic dish from Eastern Europe. “The warmth and aroma of this soup has the power to make you feel at home, close and less alone”, a dish proposed by the cooks of the Slow Food Alliance with the slogan “Make borscht not war!” to remember all Ukrainian cooking professionals.

The delicate but not neutral taste, almost of anise and artichoke, sometimes just a little pungent, allows you to decline celeriac in many preparations: raw julienne, or just blanched in acidulated water, for fragrant salads; steam, decidedly light cooking, for a passepartout side dish, or fried, for unusual chips.

It becomes soup or velvety, if accompanied with some potatoes, or a complete dish layered with other vegetables for vegetarian lasagna or in a comfort food version if covered with béchamel or stringy cheeses.

This winter menu is a vertical of celeriac: raw for a crunchy South Tyrolean salad, in a soft, lightly smoked flan and in a light and slightly spicy velvety, for a post-holiday detox day.

Anna Maria Pellegrino
Cook e Foodblogger

How nice, it’s finally cool and we can move kitchens and tables to the mountains for a crunchy and fragrant salad. Trick of the trade: you can also use orange juice to prevent the celeriac from oxidizing or blanch it for 1-2 minutes in water acidulated with apple cider vinegar.

DOSES for 4 people
COURSE: appetizer or main course (with added carbohydrates)

100 g fresh spinach or mixed salad
100 g celeriac
100 g speck Bernardi
2 Pink Lady apples
1 lemon
50 g walnut kernels
2 oranges, juice and wedges
extra virgin olive oil
salt flakes
sunflower, flax and pumpkin seeds

Clean and peel the celeriac, wash it well.

With the help of a mandolin or a large mesh grater, grate the raw pulp and place the julienne obtained in a bowl with cold water and lemon juice.

Wash the apples, core them and get some wedges.

Coarsely chop the walnut kernels and toast the seeds.

Work the slices of speck, cut to a thickness of 0.5 mm, also julienne.

Peel the oranges in vivo, set aside the juice obtained and with oil, salt and pepper make a citronette with which to dress the salad.

Divide it into four bowls and proceed enriching with the other ingredients to conclude the dish.Ricetta Sedano Rapa e Speck
Celeriac is a detoxifying vegetable and if we enrich it with eggs and smoked ricotta we won’t feel guilty. So that the right accompaniment, made with pears just sautéed with semi-salted butter, will not worry us too much.

DOSES for 4 people
COURSE: appetizer or main course

600 g celeriac
2 william or cooking pears
150 g Sardinian or Calabrian sheep's ricotta
2 organic eggs
1 shallot
1 lemon, juice and zest
curry madras
demi salted butter
thyme leaves
extra virgin olive oil

Clean the celeriac, dice it and transfer it to a bowl with cold water acidulated by the lemon juice. 

Grate the ricotta.

In a pan, brown the shallot in a drizzle of oil, then add the celeriac, add a cup of water and thyme and simmer covered for about ten minutes, adding a little water if necessary. The celery must be soft and dry.

Remove from heat, mix, season with salt and perfume with lemon zest. 

Preheat the oven to static 180 ° and grease the molds.

Beat the eggs with the curry, add the celeriac puree and grated ricotta, mix well and season with salt. Divide the mixture into molds and cook for 15/20‘.

In the meantime, clean the pears, divide them into wedges and brown them in a non-stick pan with the semi-salted butter and the thyme leaves.

Remove the molds, let them cool for a few minutes and serve them with the soft pears.sformato-sedano-rapa
The first cold ones bring with them an incredible variety of soups and vegetable soups. The presence or absence of potatoes makes them more or less caloric and, in this case, I advise you to abound with spicy Gorgonzola, which will make this proposal with celeriac elegant and even more delicious.

DOSES for 4 people
COURSE: first course

500 g celeriac
2 potatoes
1 golden onion
100 g Gorgonzola DOP piccante
vegetable broth
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
thyme leaves
rye bread

Clean, peel and dice the celeriac and potatoes.

Clean and finely slice the onion.

In a heavy-bottomed cocotte or casserole, sauté the onion for a few minutes, add the vegetables, mix well and cover with the boiling vegetable broth.

Bring back to the boil, cover and continue cooking for 15 ‘.

With an immersion mixer blend, add the Gorgonzola, and finish mixing, obtaining a creamy and fragrant velvety.

Serve with fresh thyme leaves, ground black pepper and a few slices of wholemeal or rye bread.vellutata-sedano-rapa