What to do with a celeriac if you really, really don’t like celery.

I know I’ve said this before, but this is really not a recipe: it’s just a suggestion. It did turn out rather nicely, though, so I thought you might be interested.

This isn't actually the celeriac in the recipe: it wasn't that photogenic, and, in any case, we had already eaten it. Thank heavens for Wikipedia and the GNU Free Documentation Licence.

We have had a couple of celeriacs in our vegetable box in recent weeks, and I wasn’t at all upset about this until I was merrily slicing the first one up. I peeled it, and my nostrils twitched. I chopped a slice or two from the bulbous hypocotyl (yes, folks: that’s actually what it’s called), and suddenly I found myself thinking “Urgh! What’s that horrible smell? It’s just like…celery… Bleurgh, celery is disgusting! Why would I be smelling that? Oh: hang on…”.

Now, I don’t just dislike celery: I genuinely loathe it. I can taste it in a stock or a soffrito, and one of my most challenging moments with my in-laws was being faced with a huge dish of boiled celery and having to eat some politely (I didn’t manage, but fortunately my marriage survived). I now had a half-prepared celeriac, and a sinking feeling that I wasn’t going to enjoy my dinner.

I began searching the fridge, hoping for something which might mitigate the celery taste, and came up with a dog-end of Perl Lâs, a Welsh blue cheese, which was all that was left of the weekend’s cheese-fest with my parents. This seemed hopeful, so I decided to throw it into the mix. I finished peeling the celeriac, chopped it and boiled it until it was tender, puréed it with milk and butter, à la mashed potato, and stirred through the crumbled cheese. The resultant smooth mash was surprisingly delicious: the cheese was piquant enough to balance out the celery taste, yet creamy enough not to dominate. I think the choice of cheese was crucial here: Stilton would have been too pungent, but I did have good results the following week with some Bleu d’Auvergne when the next box, and the next celeriac, came round.

The method, such as it is, is as follows.

Celeriac and Blue Cheese Purée

Peel your celeriac, a process which may involve some struggling and swearing when you get to the more stalky parts, and cut into small dice. Boil until tender: this should take 10-15 minutes, depending on how small you cut the dice. Drain, and mash with a generous knob of butter and a splash of milk. Now, you won’t be able to get a particularly smooth purée with a masher, and I did feel that the texture was a crucial part of my enjoyment of the dish. So, I suggest that you break out the stick blender and give the mash a good blitzing. Finally, stir through your blue cheese: you need about 50-75 grammes for an average-sized celeriac. Try to go for a creamy type of blue cheese: either of the ones I tried worked well, but you might also find something in the vein of Saint Agur, Roquefort or Dolcelatte to be successful. Mix the crumbled cheese through the celeriac until it is thoroughly incorporated. Serve, enjoy, and try not to think about the fact that this vegetable is related to the evil celery.

Celeriac image from Wikimedia Commons.


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