Saturday, January 14, 2012

All that is gold does not glitter

Indeed it might be quite unattractive, even ugly, to the uninitiated eye. In the case of the vegetable celeriac (or celery root), one website even suggested that celeriac not only looked like it belonged in the compost pile, but may, in fact, be the CSA vegetable most likely to end up in the compost pile!

In fact, I was so skeptical the first time I saw a pile of these brownish, bumpy, lumpy vegetables on a  market table several years ago that the farmer ended up offering to give one to me, to entice me to try it!  I remember that he was not very informative about how to prepare it, except to say he enjoyed it. His lack of details bemused me :-), but honestly, I could not get anything more helpful out of him that day.

However, I will try most any food once and knew I had oodles of cookbooks (and the internet) to peruse for delicious ideas. From soups to salads, with mashed celeriac in-between, we now look forward to every one we receive during the fall and early winter in our CSA box and have never, never, never put one into the compost pile. :-)

Here is the most recent version of what I made featuring celeriac as the prominent ingredient. My husband's reaction? "Ah, that tastes fresh!" Pretty delicious sensation for early January, I'd say!

Celeriac Root Shredded Salad

2 medium (or 1 large) celeriac root - wash and then carefully peel before shredding with a grater
1 apple - wash and dice into small pieces with peel
1 small white or yellow onion - dice into small pieces
fresh parsley - wash and dry then chop ~ 1/2 cup or more
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled, finely diced
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
Olive oil and rice wine vinaigrette (any vinegar could be used, but I opted for the mildest vinegar I had so the taste of the celeriac could shine through)
Salt and pepper to taste

(Photo: Celeriac root, whole, and washed very well! If I had taken a photo of it cut open, it would have even looked gnarly inside, like there was an outside peel wadded up and inserted into the middle of the root, which is otherwise completely white inside just like a potato! I grated everything after peeling, even the inside brown areas.) 
(Photo: Shredded Celeriac Salad, ready for pretty good eating! The crisp texture of the celeriac holds well for eating the next day. We've never had any left to eat later on during the week!)
Our farmers' market still had some celeriac today, but the 2011 crop is rapidly disappearing from local supplies. I hope you head out to purchase one (or two or three) and come up with a favorite way to use it. In fact, I also hope you try any food new to you and (1) enjoy expanding your comfort circle and (2) even finding a new favorite food! I think both my husband and I would agree that celeriac has earned its way into that highest echelon of favorite foods for us. :-)

I took a quick look into PubMed and found one article that specifically called out celeriac as containing a significant amount of several molecules (called 'bio-active constituents' in the language of the National Institutes of Health) with multiple health-promoting actions (anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-cancer, anti-fungal, etc), similar to the other vegetables to which celeriac is related (carrots, parsnips, parsley).

Of course, the article mentions patents and inventions making use of this information. However, here is my advice and plea. Please don't go looking in your favorite natural food store for pills or tinctures that have a 'proprietary formula' that includes these various molecules. Instead, I hope you'll just head down to your farmers' markets (or to the produce section of your favorite grocery store), ask for locally-grown celeriac, and support those farmers who are working as the true front-line health care providers in your own community, first by nurturing the vitally important and incredible (really!) bio-diversity within their own soil and then providing health-promoting and delicious food for you!

Lastly, for all the Tolkien fans out there, here is the rest of the poem that inspired me for today's post title line. I like the imagery in every line, the strength, the depth, the mystery, along with both the ache and the hope conveyed by these few well-chosen words, the gift that poets share with the rest of us. I cannot promise that eating celeriac will lead to the 'crownless again shall be king', but I hope you look at celeriac with new eyes, a knowing smile the next time you see it, and then reach for the gold. :-)

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be the blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"
Diana Dyer, MS, RD


Cynthia said...

There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold
And she's buying the stairway to heaven.

Unknown said...

Hi Diana

Hope I can find one, this looks delicious! Kyle

Kateri said...

I don't think I have ever eaten celeriac...certainly have never grown it. The recipe is simple up sounds wonderful. I'm going to add the list for my next shopping trip.

And loved the Tolkien poem at at the end.