Column: The unsung hero of the vegetable world

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With its knobbly exterior, the celeriac is hardly going to win a beauty contest.

Throw in the added mass of dirt trapping roots, and it’s no surprise that this root vegetable isn’t a favourite in the kitchen either.

But with a sweet, nutty flavour that has a slight nod to its celery cousin, we feel the celeriac is the unsung hero of the vegetable world. Indeed, it regularly graces the plates of our European neighbours. The Italians add the root to their gnocchi for a lighter texture, a delicious flavour and wonderful aroma. Whereas the French serve it raw, sliced into matchsticks and dressed with mayonnaise and mustard to make a remoulade that’s fantastic with sirloin steak or grilled mackerel.

Here at Mr Pickles’ we regularly stock organic and Yorkshire grown celeriac which means that we sometimes have a limited supply, but it is available for most of the year. However, many believe it’s at its best right now, just before it’s suffered too many cold frosts. And, given celeriac’s versatility, this is something we’re grateful for, now winter is setting in.

To prepare celeriac you’ll need to chop off the base where the roots lie and peel the rest.

You can then chop, grate or slice the white flesh, depending on how you intend on cooking it.

Whether you roast it or mash it, celeriac tastes great with everything from lamb chops to pan fried fish.

Try adding it to stews and casseroles for a light and nutrient packed alternative to potato.

If you fancy something even lighter simply keep it raw and use as the base to a salad of apple, pear and carrot. Just add a simple lemon and rapeseed oil dressing, along with a few slices of our Vintage Cheddar before serving.

We like to use celeriac in a creamy gratin, with a little mild blue cheese (just enough to add flavour but not too much to overpower the delicate celeriac) and a few walnuts for texture.

Another favourite of ours is to scrub the exterior clean, remove the roots and bake whole, in a low oven with garlic and herbs. To serve, we slice off the top and stir butter into in the softened flesh, then we just let everyone dig in. If you head over to our blog and search for celeriac recipes you’ll find these two dishes along with the classic remoulade.

If you like to eat seasonally, pop into our store on Abbeydale Road. Despite the cold weather, you’ll find a wide range of vegetables including succulent cabbages, colourful rainbow carrots, sweet parsnips, fresh kale and lots of delicious celeriac.