Recently I was looking for a side dish recipe that would soak up a yummy sauce. I wanted to do something different, something other than mashed potatoes, rice, or quinoa. I remembered being very intrigued when I saw the Barefoot Contessa make a celery root puree on a Thanksgiving episode. I did a quick search and found the recipe in one of my Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. After reading through it I decided to give it a try, even though I had never purchased celery root in my life.
Let’s just talk about celery root (or celeriac) for a moment. It is ugly. It is all knobby and funny looking. I was a little intimidated when I brought it home. Once I went at it with a peeler it started to resemble something I would want to eat. The texture is a bit softer than a potato and it has a slight celery flavor, but it pretty much takes on the flavor of other ingredients. Where celeriac really shines is in the nutritional department. It has less than half the calories of a potato and a third of the carbohydrates, but the same amount of fiber, which makes it a great substitute for potatoes.
This recipe combines celery root with fennel, apples, apple cider and potatoes. The flavor is slightly sweet and really satisfying.
The Perfect Pairing for this puree is a good peeler. Peeling the celery root takes some time and you also have to peel the potatoes and apples. You are going to want a high quality peeler for this recipe or your hand will be suffering. I really like the OXO hand peeler.
Celery Root and Apple Puree
Adapted by Lindsay at Perfecting the Pairing from Barefoot Contessa
· 3 Tb unsalted butter
· 1 fennel bulb, tops and core removed, chopped into 1 inch pieces
· 2 lb celery root, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
· 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes (about 8 oz), peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
· 3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
· Salt and pepper
· ½ cup apple cider
· ¼ cup half and half
Melt the butter over medium heat in a large pot that has a lid. Once the butter has melted add the fennel, celery root, potatoes, apples, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Saute the vegetables until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the apple cider and cover with a lid. Simmer over low heat until the vegetables are very soft, about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the vegetables seem too dry, you can add a bit more cider.
Once the vegetables are soft add the half and half and stir to combine. Transfer everything to a food processor and pulse until it is fully pureed. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve warm.