Cooking for One: In Praise of, Um, Celeriac

Posted by on Thursday Jan 15th, 2009 | Print

DISH: Celeriac, Leek, and Sundried Tomato Frittata
MAIN INGREDIENT: Celeriac
TYPE: Pantry fresh

a quarter of a celery root

I have a growing obsession with celery root, also known as celeriac.

It’s a root vegetable, ugly and knotted, but you can get a big old knob of it for just a dollar or two at the farmers’ market. The texture is firm and crunchy, not so crunchy as a carrot or turnip, more like a just-ripe pear. It tastes vaguely of celery, but it’s sweeter and has none of the annoying fibers that make chewing raw celery kind of tedious. Second only to its taste, celeriac’s greatest charm lies in how long it keeps. It’s a pantry vegetable like a lemon is a pantry fruit: durable, yet always fresh tasting. I’ll have one in my vegetable drawer for two weeks or more as I chip away at it for salads, sautes, and veggie roasts. Because—did I forget to mention?—it’s versatile too, as good raw as cooked by itself or added to elaborate dishes. In this frittata recipe, celeriac is featured in its cooked rendition. I’ll leave it to future posts to expose it in its all its vibrant raw goodness…

From my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,

Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK

**Recipe**

celeriac, braising

Celeriac & Sundried Tomato Frittata
serves 1

Frittatas, especially dressed up ones like this, are amazingly appealing as one-dish meals, picnic lunches, and spur-of-the moment friends for dinner. I happened to have in my possession some leftover roasted celeriac, but it doesn’t take much to roast in advance or when you’re ready to eat. Of course, you can skip the frittata entirely and serve the roasted root as a homey side dish.

For the celeriac:
Ingredients
1 lb celeriac
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt
Preheat the oven to 375°F. With a small paring knife, strip the celery root of its skin. Cut it into French-fry like shapes, about 1/3″ by 3″. Toss with the olive oil and spread on a baking sheet. Roast for about 40 minutes, until the celery root has become tender and the edges of each “French fry” are browned. Sprinkle with kosher or sea salt.


finished frittata

For the frittata:

Ingredients
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 leek, cleaned well and white and light green parts sliced thinly
1 cup roasted celeriac
6 sundried tomatoes (not in oil), cut into strips
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, or 1 tablespoon each Parmesan and Gruyere, grated
2 egg whites * (see TIP, below)
1 egg
Salt
Pepper

NOTE: This frittata for one was made in a 7″ nonstick pan. Use whatever small size you have—all that will change is the thickness. The frittata finishes cooking under the broiler, so be sure the pan is also oven safe (no plastic handles or anything). For two, just double the recipe and up the size of the pan.

Whisk the eggs with salt and pepper and either the grated Gruyere or 1 T of the Parmesan. Set aside.

Warm the oil over medium heat and add the leek, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Saute until the garlic is fragrant and the leeks are soft and slightly browned, 5-10 minutes. Add the roasted celeriac and sundried tomato strips, and increase the heat to high. Stir until the vegetables are heated through, then, working quickly, turn off the heat and pour in the eggs, pulling them towards you and stirring them around with a heat-proof spatula. When the mixture has nearly set, sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese and more pepper.

Place the pan in the oven under the broiler for about 2 minutes, until the top is golden and the cheese is melted. (When broiling, keep the oven door slightly ajar.)

Let rest in the pan 5 minutes. Serve in wedges, warm or at room temperature.

TIP: My ideal egg situation for dishes like this is 2 egg whites and 1 whole egg. I find the richness of the egg yolks distracting, but if you’re not used to the relative austerity of egg whites, feel free to change the proportion to 2 eggs and 1 egg white or simply 2 eggs.

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  • Frankie

    God that sounds good. Gonna try roasting first. Celeri remoulade is one of my faves. got a great recipe for that?

  • Esther

    Sounds absolutely delish, wish i could sample every dish on the page!

    p.s. did a friend who cares very, very deeply for you procure that delightful table cloth in africa?

  • Phoebe and Cara, The Quarter-Life Cooks

    Yes! I love celeri remoulade too. I make it with yogurt because I have an immature aversion to mayonnaise when I have to see it coming out of the jar…I’ll post a recipe soon.

  • shayma

    why are people so mean about poor celeriac? i love your recipe- i agree, it is good raw as well as cooked. fritatta is probably one of my favourite comfort foods. x shayma

  • Elle

    This looks great! Do you think it would do as well without the broiling? Does that only serve to melt the cheese?

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

      Yes, exactly – firms the whole frittata up, too, and makes it a little prettier.