Saturday, June 16, 2012

My gnarly roots

I like gnarly things. Gnarly faces. Gnarly trees. Gnarly truffles. Gnarly vegetables. Earthy, rooted, tough, intricate, complicated. Yet beauty and nuance come out of gnarly things. And that wonderful contrast is perfectly illustrated by the celery root.

I don’t know that there is a more gnarly-looking root (and if there is, do let me know asap!) than the celery root (though the sunchoke gives it a run for its money, plus it’s got a cool alias, “Jersulem Artichoke”, but I digress… more on sunchokes very soon). That thing looks like it's going to jump out and bite you, doesn't it? A far cry from its ham of a sibling, the celery stalk, all sleek and leafy up top. And yet it has such a delicate subtle taste, which makes wonderful purees, for baby or the whole family (My truffled celery puree is always a family favorite at Christmas dinner).

Aside from their many health benefits (lots of fiber, lots of potassium, vitamin C and a flurry of other good stuff), roots have very unique flavors. Sometimes on the sweet side (rutabaga, parsnip, beet, carrots), sometimes on the bitter (turnip), or just unlike anything else (celery root, sunchokes), they add a very interesting set of flavors to a baby’s palate.

A roots puree can be any combination you wish, depending on your baby’s taste. If your baby tends to like carrots or have a bit of a sweet tooth, start with a rutabaga/parsnip/celery puree. Beets (of various shades) or carrots add a nice color component to these purees. For a pretty pink color, add a touch of beet (though the color of beet quickly takes over, so if you’re going for light pink, go easy on the beet! I used a whole, albeit small, beet in the puree below, and see the result…)

Three Roots Puree


Age: 6-8 months, consult with your pediatrician. (As always, start by offering a puree of each root individually for any potential allergies, and then mix and match…)

Makes 5 x 2 oz containers

1 small beet

1 medium celery root

½ turnip

Some fresh sage and chives

Peel the celery by cutting off the rough outer edge and stalks, and cut it up.

Peel the turnip and beet, and cut up in pieces.

Steam the roots with the herbs for about 15 mn, until tender.

Mix in food processor, adding some of the cooking juices to obtain desired consistency.

Other possible variations with roots:

Celery puree – Steam 1 cut up celery root with 1 small red potato and mix with some cooking juices (I even go as far as adding a tiny drop of truffle oil now, which marries itself so beautifully to celery. You can also mix it with a bit of fresh goat cheese in the processor, adds a touch of tanginess, calcium and protein)

Turnip-carrot puree – A good way to introduce baby to turnip, since it’s slightly on the bitter side, the carrot makes up for it. Steam ¼ turnip with a few carrots and mix.

Beet – I usually steam, puree and freeze one large beet into 1 oz container, that way I always have some when a recipe calls for a bit of beet, you can just add a touch for color and taste.

Parsnip & Rutabaga can be steamed and pureed on their own (or together). The purees come out very smooth, nice for a young baby who isn’t used to chunks yet.

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  1. I love winter roots too. They're cheap hardy and delicious, and so healthy at that. I love beetroot for its colour and sweetness, but really dig the more special ones like celeriac too, and ooh turnips. It's the only thing about winter I miss.

    1. They seem so easy to find organic and local year round here, I almost forgot they were winter vegetables and cook them whenever... I even felt like making a couple of soups next week too, I guess it's summer but my tastebuds are stuck back in february! Thanks so much for commenting.

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