Written By: Chef Peggy Aoki
Shake up your winter cooking by trying some new flavors!
Two of my favorite seasonal winter produce choices include fennel and celery root, and many people are not familiar with eating them. Although you’ll see these items year-round in the market, they are at their seasonal best in the winter, and they make a great addition to your winter table.
Citrusy Fennel Salad
Raw fennel is great thinly sliced in a salad. The slightly licorice-flavored bulb is firm and crisp, adding great texture. Slice it parallel to the root end to cut across the fibers. I like to use a mandoline for the thinnest slices. Try making a citrus vinaigrette by mixing the juice of one tangerine and one lemon with a minced garlic clove, salt, freshly ground pepper and twice as much olive oil as you have juice. Shake or whisk the ingredients together and toss with sliced fennel, a handful of thinly sliced mushrooms and your favorite salad greens. If your fennel bulb came with tender fronds attached, pluck those off and add to the salad, too.
Roasted Fennel and Chicken Thighs
Roasted fennel is savory and delicious. I like to toss chopped fennel bulb with a sliced onion in a bit of olive oil, then spread on a baking sheet. I top with seasoned chicken thighs or halibut and roast it all together at 375 degrees until the protein is done for a fast meal. You can add a pat of seasoned butter on top and serve with couscous, which is ready in minutes. Chopped fennel is also a great addition to soups and bone broth.
Scalloped Potatoes and Celery Root
Celery root, also known as celeriac, is the cousin of the more familiar celery you already know. It has a soft texture and mild flavor, but needs to be trimmed to remove the knobbly roots. Start by cutting straight across the top and bottom to have a stable base, and then trim around the root, cutting away all of the dark exterior. Celery root can be boiled and mashed like potatoes for a delicious lower carb potato alternative, and also sliced and roasted like a potato gratin. I like to use half potato, half celery root for a delicious variation on scalloped potatoes.
French Celery Remoulade
Celery root also makes a great salad or salad addition. Celery remoulade is a classic French preparation that mixes raw grated celery root with a flavored mayonnaise and holds for several days in the refrigerator. Raw celery root can also be added in julienne strips to a salad or sandwich for extra flavor.
Fennel and Celery Soup
I love the flavors of these two together, also! Try this simple soup to use up any remaining bits or ends of fennel and celery root after you’ve used them for a salad. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil or butter in a 4-quart soup pot. Add one cup each chopped fennel and onion. Stir and allow the vegetables to soften and become aromatic. Add one cup chopped celery root. Add vegetable or chicken broth to just cover the vegetables and simmer until the fennel is very soft. Puree the soup with a hand blender and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. You can add some optional dairy to enrich the soup, such as a half cup of sour cream or plain yogurt, or simply serve as it. A few toasted pumpkin seeds or crumbles of parmesan or manchego cheese at serving time will dress up the soup, too.
I hope you’ll try some new produce flavors this winter! If you want the guidance of a professional chef as you explore new foods, you can design your own class with the help of expert Chef Instructors at Fēst, or book a class to learn some new tricks with your CSA box. We’re looking forward to cooking with you soon!