January’s Seasonal Vegetables

Each month our chefs in the Curve create dishes containing the ‘seasonal fruit or vegetable’ of the month, this month we will be celebrating celeriac and rubarb!

CELERIAC

celeriac

It may appear to be just an ugly, uninteresting, knobbly root but celeriac has inner beauty. The flesh – crispy when raw, silky smooth when cooked – has a delicate taste which suggests the flavours of celery and parsley with a slight nuttiness. Try it mashed with potatoes and garlic or in the excellent Celeriac Remoulade.

HISTORY

Celeriac is derived from wild celery, which has a small, edible root and has been used in Europe since ancient times (it is mentioned in Homer’s Odysseyas selinon). It is unclear when celeriac was first cultivated but there are references to it dating back to the seventeenth century.

Today celeriac is uncommon outside of Europe or W. Asia, and is not widely used in Britain. It is popular in France (where it is used in the classic dishcéleri rémoulade – matchsticks of celery in a flavoured mayonnaise) and Italy.

BIOLOGY

Apium graveolens var rapaceum is closely related to celery but features a much larger root.

TIPS

BUYING
Choose medium-sized celeriac that are firm and free from soft spots or damage. Allow for around ¼ of the weight to be discarded during preparation.

STORING
Refrigerate in a plastic bag (unsealed). Celeriac can keep for 2 or 3 weeks.

PREPARING
Trim leaves (if present) and root end. Scrub well and cut off the skin quite thickly to remove any brown bits and the root channels in the base. Drop cut pieces in water with a squeeze of lemon juice to prevent discolouration.

Grate or cut into thin sticks for serving raw (blanch briefly in boiling water for a slightly softer, smoother texture). Boil cubes until tender (15 – 20 minutes) before mashing with potatoes and garlic, or other root vegetables. Celeriac also works well in stews and roast celeriac is excellent with meat.

Just a rumour……….

The root vegetable, celeriac, (pronounced celery’-ack), for many, is a mystery. Without doubt the “ugliest” vegetable, It is related to parsley, and it’s not the root of the celery we are always lead to believe.

Why not try and make celeriac, pancetta and hazelnut soup?

RHUBARB

rhubarb

The outlandishly coloured vegetable that thinks it’s a fruit. Rhubarb makes deliciously comforting puddings but its sharpness works extremely well with meat and oily fish dishes.

Forced rhubarb (grown in the dark) has yellowish leaves and usually appears in January. The field-grown variety replaces it around April and is less tender but often more flavourful.

HISTORY

Rhubarb was used as a medicine in ancient China. It was brought to Europe by Marco Polo and has been eaten as a food since the eighteenth century.

BIOLOGY

Rhubarb is a member of the family Polygonaceae and is related to sorrel. It grows best in cool climates and the effect of forcing was discovered by accident at the Chelsea Physic Garden early in the 19th century.

TIPS

BUYING
Choose crisp, firm, plump stalks with good colour.

STORING
Kept in the fridge, fresh rhubarb will stay in reasonable condition for 1-2 weeks. Raw and cooked rhubarb freeze well.

PREPARING
Wash and trim both ends of the stalks, and discard the poisonous leaves. Rhubarb, in particular the later field-grown variety, is very tart and requires considerable sweetening. As with other relatively acidic foods it is recommended that it is not cooked using aluminium pots.

My one is bigger than yours…………

The variety Irish Giant grows stems up to 1.5m long and several inches in diameter.

Why not try our recipe for rhubarb and custard tart?

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