The ugliest veggie ever

Sometimes when I think about the premise of my blog, I worry.  This isn’t a shock to anyone who knows me, because I worry about just about everything (unless it’s something that actually matters in which case I’m pretty calm and collected), but in this case I worry that I’ll run out of exotically strange foods to cook.  This week I planned to drive to a far away market to find a rare culinary treasure, but then I walked to the fruit market at the end of my street and found this…

…the vegetable version of the Borg sphere.  Prepare to be assimilated.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen celery roots (celeriac) in my grocery travels, but I’ve always passed them up because they’re pretty ugly.  And big.  And dirty.

I shouldn’t have been afraid though, because it was as easy to peel as a turnip or squash by hacking off its skin with my big knife, and then I was able to chop it up in a jiff.

The hideous thing was so big that I still have half of it left over to use in another meal, and apparently they keep for months.  They’re also low in calories and high in fibre and vitamins C, K, and phosphorous.

I found lots of nice recipes for celeriac soups or potato blends, but these made me feel wintry and I wasn’t sure that these would have made my overheated family very enthusiastic.  I ended up landing on an epicurious inspired recipe for risotto, although mine is quite different, below:

Celery root risotto with beet green pesto and bacon

Risotto

  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 2 leeks, whites and light green only, sliced and chopped into short strips
  • ½ ugly celeriac, peeled and chopped into bite sized chunks
  • 3/4C Arborio rice
  • 3C low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 small handful of parmesan

Directions:  Cook bacon in a deep frying pan until crispy and set aside.  Cook leeks and celeriac in bacon grease (I don’t fry in bacon grease often, so my heart won’t hate me for this.  If yours will be pissed at you, use olive oil instead and switch the bacon topping for sundried tomatoes) over medium heat with lid on until soft, about 10 minutes.  Add rice and cook 1 minute.  Add chicken stock 1 cup at a time, bringing to a boil and then simmering without lid until liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally.  Stir in parmesan near end of cook time

Pesto

  • One good handful of beet or other greens
  • 1.5 handfuls of walnuts
  • 1.5 handfuls of parmesan
  • Stream of olive oil

 

 

Directions:  Pulse greens, nuts and parm in food processor until combined, but not powdery.  Add olive oil in a stream while processor is running until pesto becomes a paste

(You’ll see from my pics that I like my pesto a little drier to reduce oil used.  You might also notice something else about my oil picture if you look closely).

Top the risotto with the pesto and sprinkle with crumbles of bacon. Extra pesto can be used atop a meat accompaniment.

Results: 

I tried to stay away from a wintry dish, but this turned out to be a delicious comfort food.  What the heck.  Don’t we need to be comforted in the summer?  This would be a fantastic partner for ribs at a barbeque actually, having a really earthy flavour.  That’s it!  Ugly veggie risotto is the hot new alternative to picnic potato salad.

Rating:  2 yums.  Cook it when you need something to stick to your ribs, or to hang out with the pork ones you’re serving

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