Celery root, also known as celeriac, is an awesome root highly common and popular in Europe but still waiting for its time in US. It is a different variety than regular celery (stalks). Its root has a bulbous shape and sometimes comes with its leaves on top that resemble giant parsley. It is best during the winter months, but could be found until late March here in the Bay Area. Most American recipes that I’ve come across recommend boiling and mixing with mashed potatoes or grating raw and adding to salads. Although both are fine ways of cooking with celery root, they’re far from how we eat celery root in Turkey. Celery, kereviz in Turkish which comes from karafs in Persian, is cooked in meat stews and soups like potatoes, or in egg-lemon sauces similar to Greek avgolemono sauce, but yet the most common way of preparing celery is the traditional olive oil cooking, i.e., cooked in olive oil usually with carrots, potatoes, and peas, and seldom with quince and orange slices and served luke warm, like this recipe or this one .
Celery root with orange or tangerine juice is a “spin-off” from the conventional olive oil variety. The mixing of orange and lemon juices in this dish creates a memorable and delicious tangy flavors.
When picking celery roots, avoid both very small and very big ones. You would lose half of the small ones to peeling and the big ones tend to be hollow in the middle. Pick mid-size celery roots, approximately grapefruit-size ones and feel their weight in your hand; they should be heavy. Once peeled celery roots darken fast, so always keep a bowl of water and juice of half a lemon ready to place the peeled roots. If you get them with the greens on top, save them for cooking and decorating.
1 medium size celery root, peeled and diced
1 onion, finely diced
1 big potato, peeled and diced
1 carrots, peeled and cut in half or quarter rounds
juice of 2 medium juicy oranges OR 3 tangerines OR 1 orange and 1-2 tangerines
2 lemons (juice of half to prevent darkening, rest for cooking depending on your sourness preference)
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup olive oil + 2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1-2 tsp salt
-Peel the root and place it in a bowl with water and lemon juice to prevent darkening
-Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a broad pan and add onions. Cook on medium until soft but don’t let them brown.
-Add sugar and stir.
-Drain the water from celery root.
-Add carrots, potatoes, and celery root. Stir for 2-3 minutes until covered with olive oil and warmed up.
-Add orange/tangerine juice (whichever combination you choose) and lemon juice (how much lemon juice you will add depends on how tangy you enjoy this dish. It can go from half a lemon juice to one and a half. I love mine tangy and usually add juice of one big lemon, 2-3 tbsp). Also add 1/2 cup of water.
-Salt it to your taste.
-Add half of the dill. (If you have the root greens you can add 1/8 cup of that at this point as well)
-Once it starts to boil, turn it down and cook for 25-30 minutes until celery root is cooked.
-Let it cool in the pot covered.
-Transfer it to a serving plate. Sprinkle it with 2-3 tbsp olive oil and rest of the dill.
-Serve cold or luke warm.
Once you get used to cooking this dish, you can experiment with it by adding 1/3 cup of green peas to it or skipping potatoes or carrots or both. Make it your own.