I have a bit of an unresolved relationship with celery. I like the concept, but I don’t go crazy when I see it. It is a fact though: celeriac, along with parsley root, carrot, parsnip etc. are the staples of the autumn- and winter-time cooking. This is an opinion changing dish, pushing the scales to much more affection towards this forgotten and maybe a bit neglected root.
I visited Karmelitermarkt the other Saturday. It was the first day of coldness hitting us after a long and very hot summer. I was picking up british sausages (check them out if you live in Vienna!) and as per usual with me, I got stuck just strolling around the vegetable stands. I was waiting in the queue to get wine when I spotted a monster celery (or celeriac, as proper English would require me to call this vegetable). They were piling up on a stand and being very full of themselves. Big, fat bulbs with bushy green parts. Very impressive and very aromatic. I remembered a recipe with slow roasted tomatoes from Golubka’s book and decided to just go for it.
Do not cook your celeriac!
When at home I got to the recipe I did not particularly like the fact that celery and chickpeas were cooked. I think root vegetables should be treated differently, especially when they are supposed to play the main part. You need to get as much taste out of them as possible, not make them bland by cooking in water. So I did what I like to do in the kitchen. I improvised. The result was so good I decided to share, not only keep it for myself. Don’t be afraid to add more spices. Also, don’t panic when celeriac sticks to the pan. Let it happen, just don’t let it burn. If you allow a bit of charring you will release much more flavours and the celeriac will offer you it’s best.