Sunday, December 6, 2009

Accidental Celeriac - How Soup Became Salad

The other day I set out to make a celeriac puree soup.  Nothing mind-blowing or inventive, just the standard accompaniments of potatoes and leeks, some cream and good stock.  Jason and I had found some nice celeriac at the only real year-round farmers market in Chicago, Green City, and having never worked with this nobbly root before, I thought I'd play it safe for once.  It was not to be, however...

Lots of the coolest inventions have come from mistakes: The microwave, penicillin... even the cornflake came about when Dr. Kellogg let a pot of boiled wheat for hospital patients overcook.  Now, I'm not trying to say I invented something to approach any of these inventions, and I am even pretty sure plenty of other people have discovered this, but for me, it's a novel and new idea... so I'm really just asking that everyone humor me for a little while.

What happened was,  I decided to pan saute the root pieces a little before adding to the stock and let one batch go a little too long, and with a little too much olive oil.  This left me with pan fried celeriac.  Hmmm... no good for soup, I shrugged and slid the rejects to a "Mathea Eats Mistakes" pile.   As I reached over to sample my pile, I realized the golden little pieces looked an awful lot yummy potato wedges.  A sprinkling of sea salt and a nibble confirmed these were not rejects at all: they were crisp on the outside, with a tender, almost artichoke heart quality on the inside with that same twinge of sweetness.  Then there was the bright green of the celery to remind you that this was no potato, oh no... There would be no soup tonight.

Plated with some greens, small heirloom or grape tomatoes (they don't have to be fancy-pants), bacon and a Dijon vinaigrette these were super.  I was happy about my little discovery - enough that I didn't even care that I didn't get to eat my Mistakes pile all by myself...

Recipe: Accidental Sauteed Celeriac Salad

For the vinaigrette...

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced shallot 
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill (or 1/2 tablespoon dried)

For salad...

1 large celeriac bulb (celery root)
3 cups mesclun lettuce mix
3 strips bacon - diced and cooked
1 cup whole small tomatoes (such as grape)
2 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt & cracked pepper to taste

What to do with it all...

Start with your vinaigrette by adding shallots to vinegar and lemon juice, allowing them to "pickle" for at least 5 minutes - 15 being ideal
In small bowl, slowly stir olive oil into mustard in a small bowl with a wooden spoon
Add dill and shallot/vinegar/lemon juice mixture to olive oil/mustard and stir - set aside
Prepare celery root like you would cut a pineapple - cutting off top and bottom, cutting away outer skin and inner, spongy core
Slice remaining pieces into thin wedges
Coat a medium saute pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat on medium
Add your wedges in a single layer, fry on one side, then other until golden
Remove and transfer to paper towel to drain excess oil - salt and pepper wedges to taste
Repeat until all wedges are cooked
For one large salad: toss your greens and tomatoes with vinaigrette, adding salt and pepper to taste
Top with celeriac wedges and bacon
For individual salads: toss your greens and tomatoes with vinaigrette and salt and pepper, reserving a tablespoon for plating
Divide greens and tomatoes to plates, top with celeriac and bacon
Spoon reserved vinaigrette over celeriac


  1. Oh hey, I have a celeriac languishing in the refrigerator. It's lucky you made a mistake! The salad looks divine.

  2. i love accidental foods. roasting veggies to a crisp in olive oil with a little salt and pepper on of my favorite ways to eat! i've never had celeriac, but i know i'd love it cooked like yours.

  3. Love your accident!
    man that sounds mean!
    but looks delicious.
    i can taste it now..i know that isnt normal but hey!
    Why has nobody invented scratch and sniff screens!
    [ic looks great tooo !!

  4. Accidental or not, yum! I love celeriac.

  5. I've never worked with celeriac -- but I'm all for anything that resembles yummy potato wedges!

  6. I love when accidents work out this way!

  7. I love off-the-cuff, accidental masterpieces!

  8. I love accidental foods!! that's how beautiful recipes rae created!

    This dish is no exception!

    MMMMMMMMM,...I think that celery is too much used in soups, anyway! It is such a versatile vegetable!

  9. Yeah, celeriac is wasted in soup. Unless chestnuts are added. Then we're talking.

    The salad looks good! And I like the fact that it's warm. Too cold here for cold salads now.

  10. That is the prettiest celeriac I've ever seen. Vegetables as art -- I love it!

  11. Looks intriguing. I make a salad by tenderizing julienne celery root in vinegar and salt for half an hour and then rinsing it and dressing it with a dijon mustard vinaigarette. It is a great first course salad that will wait happily for hours or even over night before being served.

  12. I LOVE celeriac; I have a lovely puree recipe I will post soon. x

  13. What a beautiful picture of celeriac root! I love when mistakes turn into masterpieces at the end -- I think this accidental celeriac that transformed itself into a salad instead of a soup is genius :) It was it's destiny, well done!

  14. First of all, what a beautiful site you have, Mae! I love it.

    Second of all, the exact same thing happened to me last week when I turned a celeriac, which I bought in order to make soup with, into sauteed cereliac. Didn't put it into a salad like you did, but came pretty close.

  15. I love it when "accidents" become something great! Your dish looks & sounds delicious!

  16. Great idea! It turned out really well...

    Lovely pictures and blog. Thanks for passing by!



  17. Well you know that's how chocolate chip cookies came to be! That looks like a delicious mistake. I'm going to give it a try.

    Your blog is beautiful and smart. I've only seen this one post so far but I know I'm going to be a big fan and follower!

    To quote my Governator, who I did not vote for FYI..."I'll be back!"

    Alex aka Ma What's For Dinner?

  18. This is too awesome! I agree that some of the best discoveries were mistakes. It's serendipity! Now you have me craving for some crispy munchies...

  19. Nice work, what a delicious mistake! I'm glad you didn't taste failure instead ;)

  20. Like I learned a long time ago..."necessity is the mother of invention"! And you have inadvertently and necessarily created a perfect marriage of ingredients and flavor here indeed!

    CCR =:~)

  21. Mistakes have absolutely led to some delicious discoveries in my kitchen. I love the combination of flavors in your salad (especially the bacon and the Dijon vinaigrette)

    Celeriac may not be the most beautiful vegetable, but that first photo is gorgeous.

  22. What a happy accident! I am so glad you paid a visit to my blog, now I know about your beautiful site!

  23. That is the most delicious looking accident I've ever seen! You have a wonderful blog here and your photography is really excellent!

  24. What a fab post and a yummy looking salad.
    Hope you are enjoying your weekend.
    *kisses* HH

  25. I love your photo of the celery root. Very pretty!

  26. I think the word 'mistake' doesn't really exist in the culinary world. Any so called 'mistakes' can be named a new dish just like what you did....looks delicious! I have always been intrigued by this 'ugly' celeriac and have read about its goodness but have not tried it yet. Hope to try it sometime soon. Thanks for sharing.

  27. celeriac is something we have heard for the first time

  28. I LOVE the flavor of celery root. It's so smooth and sweet and earthy...mmmmm. Gorgeous accident!

  29. That's a perfect mistake! Looks delicious. I have not tried celeriac. Would love to try.


Thanks for commenting - I'm always happy to hear from you!


Related Posts with Thumbnails