What is it? One thing it isn't, is attractive. This bulbous, brown monstrosity is actually the root of a type of celery plant, although it isn't the same type as the ones we buy the stalks of in the grocery stores. It was specifically bred to create a large, bulky root rather than long, tender stalks (although it does have stalks and leaves growing out the top). The white, crunchy inside tastes like a cross between celery and a turnip.
Celeriac was mentioned in writing as far back as 800 B.C. in Homer's Oddysey, but didn't become a staple vegetable until the Middle Ages and was common in Europe in the 17th century. It remains popular in Europe, especially France.
It's also known by these names: celery root, knob celery and turnip-rooted celery.
How is it used? Celeriac is famously used in a French salad called a celerie remoulade, in which the root is grated, marinated in an acid (usually lemon juice) and tossed with a tangy mayonnaise.
Aside from being consumed raw in slaws and salads, celeriac can also be used in baked dishes like gratins and casseroles; it's also boiled and pureed (oftentimes in conjunction with potatoes).
Where can I buy it? We've seen them at Central Market, Whole Foods and the occasional Kroger.
Recipe: Celeriac Remoulade