By Kendra Murray.

Despite its intimidating (and strange!) exterior, celeriac offers a bold flavor to many dishes.

If you’re new to the local seasonal food scene, you might wonder from what alien planet the large bulbous knob in your CSA box originated. Well, it was likely grown on local soils and its name is celeriac!

The first time I saw celeriac at a farm stand, I knew I had to buy it. I had no idea what it would taste like or how I would cook it, but its strange appearance intrigued me. Surely, if a food was this ugly, it must have the redeeming quality of being delicious, right? Celeriac is also known as celery root or knob celery. This form of celery is grown for its root. As with many roots, it has a deep earthy flavor, but the taste that really pops is celery. Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of celery (though I am finally warming up to it). I just never cared for the crunchy yet stringy texture. The flavor, however, I have always enjoyed. This is where celeriac is a great alternative to celery. Its rich flavor shines, and yet it doesn’t have the stringiness of its cousin, which many find off-putting.

The first time I cooked celeriac, I really wasn’t sure what to do with it. The sheer size of the root intimidated me. First, I didn’t know how to cook it, and second, there was a whole lot of vegetable there! Knowing it was supposed to taste like celery, I peeled it and diced it up fine, and threw it in some fried rice I was cooking. I was pleasantly surprised. It had all the flavor of celery, without actually being celery. How had I not known about celeriac before?

I went on to try preparing it a few other ways. It is delicious roasted, but I love throwing it into soups and stews, which for me are the ultimate fall dishes. Despite my love of summer, it just is an odd time to be eating hot soup. Once the weather starts cooling down and all the root veggies come in, I assume my place over a large stockpot for the next few months.

One of my favorite fall dishes as a chickpea noodle soup. It’s a lovely vegetarian alternative to chicken noodle, and it’s just as comforting and hardy. Instead of traditional egg noodles, I like to use Japanese sōmen noodles, which makes this dish seems like a less collegiate ramen. Sōmen can be found in the Asian section of most grocery stores, sometimes labeled as Oriental Style noodles. If you can’t find sōmen, angel hair pasta is a good substitute for these thin Asian wheat noodles. I like throwing bok choy into the soup as my green veggie, but spinach works nicely as well. It’s simple, delicious, and hearty. What more could you ask for?

Kendra Murray’s soup and stew-making skills were taken to new heights using celeriac. She loves that it doesn’t double as dental floss like its stringy cousin.