Celeriac is the root of what is called “celery”. In my university years, in Sydney, I hadn’t seen celeriac anywhere for quite a long time, then one day I came across this non-starchy root vegetable in the vegie isle of a supermarket. As soon as I saw this prince charming hid in the form of an ugly frog, I started jumping up and down like a child. At the check out, I noticed that something was wrong, as the girl kept skipping my lovely celeriac and finished checking out everything else I bought. Then she said she would be back in a minute and left. When she returned, she seemed quite anxious, turned to me and said “please don’t get me wrong, what do you call this thing? I tried to find it in the isle but no luck “, she obviously thought that I would be offended by her ignorance of our cultural habit of eating this weird substance. I smiled and replied, celeriac, celery-root in other words. She was relieved by my calm reaction, glad that I didn’t turn out to be the furious Muslim she was afraid that I was.
Anyhoo, another time at the same supermarket checkout, an old lady asked me about how I prepared “this thing”. I gave her a quick recipe of this olive oil dish and she seemed happy, she said “there is one other Polish lady buying this, I haven’t seen anyone else”. I don’t know how the Polish make this into a dish, but my favorite is an olive oil based recipe.
2 medium sized celeriac knobs, slice off the outer surface and slice the flesh into 0.5cm thick disks,
2 carrots, cut into 0.5cm thick slices,
1 onion, again 0.5cm round slices,
1 potato, cut into 0.5cm slices,
2 cups of orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed,
1/2 cup of olive oil, virgin,
2 teaspoons of salt,
1/2 cup of fresh whole parsley leaves
Line the carrot slices into the bottom of a steel (this is a must!) cooking pot, top with half of the celeriac slices. Layer onions and continue with the rest of the celeriac, finally add the potatoes. Add in the orange juice, salt and olive oil. Cover, put a heavy stone or plate onto the lid to keep it still. Cook on high heat for 5-10 minutes, lower the heat and cook for another 30 minutes, check one carrot slice with a fork, if it is tender, remove the pot from the heat. Drop the parsley leaves into the pot, cover and put the stone back onto the lid. Leave on the kitchen counter overnight. The next day, remove the parsley leaves and serve at room temperature. I sometimes drizzle with more olive oil and a dash of lemon juice before serving.