Celery root refers to a knobby brown root of a celery variety cultivated specifically for its root. Also called Celeriac (Apium graveolens Rapaceum Group), turnip-rooted celery or Knob celery.

Celery root is rich in phosphorous and potassium, with only forty calories per cup. In the past it was said that Madame du Barry served celery root soup to King Louis XV every night before they went to bed. Madame du Barry thought the soup was an aphrodisiac, but most herbals herald it for its anti-inflammatory properties and recommend it for people with arthritis or rheumatism.

Celery root is excellent raw or cooked, on its own or combined with vegetables or meats. When raw, it is usually grated, shredded, or julienned, and then dressed with mayonnaise, vinaigrette, or a cream dressing. For a slightly less raw taste, toss the slivered root with one teaspoon salt and one tablespoon lemon juice and let it marinate an hour. Then rinse, drain, and dry thoroughly before dressing.

Celery root can be boiled or baked and can be eaten as a side dish or use in purées and soups. When braised with meat, it creates a tasty two-way street, lending a complex flavor to the meat juices, and a meaty richness to the vegetable. For the same reasons, celery root makes a great poultry stuffing.

Celery roots are available year-round with a peak during November through April. Select roots that are the least knobby or ones that have the smoothest skin (for easier peeling). Medium roots tend to be smoother and harder and these roots can be sold with or with out the celery tops. If you do buy the roots with the tops, trim the stalks and save them for soups and stews. The roots should be wrapped in plastic, stored in the refrigerator, and used within a week. Celery roots must be scrubbed, trimmed at the top and bottom, quartered, and then peeled before eating. Any spongy parts should be discarded. Overcooking a firm celery root makes it mushy.

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