Sunday, March 6, 2011

Roasted Celery Root with Prosciutto

"And the winner of the ugly vegetable award goes to....celery root!" Sometimes called root celery, knob celery or celeriac, this scary-looking vegetable is extremely low in calories, carbs and sodium while also being a good source of calcium and potassium. I've always been curious about this vegetable, but its appearance in the vegetable bin has kept me from picking it up, much less trying it, until now. My mission this past week was to try a new vegetable and, after looking over the entire vegetable section, it was either celery root or golden beets. The celery root won, but only barely.

After reading about it, I discovered that the taste is rather mild, like celery. It can be boiled, mashed or roasted, much like a potato. As a matter-of-fact, it pairs nicely with potatoes in a gratin or combined with boiled potatoes and mashed thereby cutting the carbs of either of these typically "potato" dishes by quite a lot. I found an intriguing recipe in the book In Season by Sarah Raven. She wrapped it in pancetta, which is unsmoked Italian bacon, and roasted it in the oven. Pancetta is high in saturated fat, so I made some adjustment and used very thinly sliced prosciutto. The flavor was incredible and turned the celery root into a spectacular side or main dish. I served it with a chopped tomato & fresh mozzarella salad drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette. Honestly, this strange vegetable prepared in this way both surprised and delighted me and, more importantly, my apprehensive husband. You've got to give this one a try!

Roasted Celery Root with Prosciutto
(Makes 2 servings)

1 celery root (about the size of a large potato)
1 teaspoon olive oil
salt & pepper
½ teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
pinch of garlic powder (if not already included in the Italian seasoning)
4 thin slices of prosciutto

1. Using a sharp knife, remove the outer skin of the celery root. Slice it in half, then slice one-half of the root into 4-5 wedges (about ½" to ¾" thick). Set aside and reserve the remaining half for another use. Steam the wedges over boiling water for about 10 minutes, until beginning to soften.

2. Pat dry with a paper towel and place the steamed wedges in a medium-sized bowl. Add olive oil and season with salt, pepper and herbs. Toss to coat and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350-degrees.

3. Wrap each wedge in a slice of prosciutto. Place on a baking sheet and roast in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes. Turn the wedges and increase the heat to 375-degrees. Continue roasting for another 15-20 minutes until the celery root is soft when pierced with a fork and the prosciutto is crispy on both sides (you may need to turn them another time to achieve the proper amount of crispness). Serve hot.

Nutritional Information per serving (2 wedges, not including salad): 84 calories, 9.1 g carbohydrate, 4.2 g total fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 287 mg sodium, 1.9 g fiber, 3.3 g protein.

Recipe adapted from one found in the book In Season by Sarah Raven.

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