Simply Fresh by Julie Wern

January in New England….time to get out the snow shoes, but also time to get creative with those root veggies. While we’ve been enjoying many batches of simple roasted root vegetables in my house, we’re getting a bit tired of that. So with the CSA distribution this week, I’ve started looking for some new ideas.

My good friend, Jeanne, found this recipe for a parsnip and potato gratin that her family raved about. I haven’t tried it yet, but thought I would share it with you all. It would make a great side dish for company or for a special dinner for Valentines Day. Here is the link (click here).

I have also been discovering ways to use parsnips in lieu of pasta in certain dishes. This saves on calories, minimizes starch, and adds more nutrients to dishes than pasta can. Check out this recipe for a beef ragout served with parsnip “noodles” (click here). Because the CSA parsnips vary in size so much they may be hard to spiralize. So if you can’t make noodles with these parsnips, try making parsnip “rice”.  Simply mince raw, peeled parsnips in a food processor until they resemble rice (adding a little lemon juice helps prevent browning), then either serve raw, quickly saute, or steam the “rice”. Check out these recipes below that use parsnip rice:

Vegetable Fried Parsnip Rice with Roasted Chicken (click here)

Parsnip Rice and Broccoli (click here)

If you don’t want to fuss with making parsnip noodles or rice, try serving favorite sauces over roasted parsnips. At a recent dinner party I was treated to a wonderful beef ragout served over simple planks of roasted parsnips. The flavors were delicious together and no one even missed the pasta.

Featured Item—Celeriac

Celeriac is a fairly new vegetable for me but so far, I love it. Celeriac is a variety of celery also known as celery root. It is cultivated for its warty looking but nonetheless delicious root, although it’s stalks and leaves are edible, resembling celery leaves and shoots. Its flesh beneath the hairy brown exterior is crisp, white and looks a bit like a turnip, whereas it’s taste is like mild celery, with nutty undertones. Celeriac is quite popular in Europe, but is beginning to find its fans here in the U.S. as well.

Celeriac is delicious both raw and cooked. In cooking it is often substituted for potatoes because of its similar texture and color when cooked. However, celeriac has about one third of the total carbohydrates of a potato. This makes it a great alternative for folks trying to watch their starch intake.

Celeriac is wonderful raw in vegetable or grain salads. It can be grated, thinly sliced, julienned or cut in thicker slices for crudite. See below for a tasty lentil salad using raw carrot and celeriac.

Celeriac can also be steamed, sautéed, fried, baked, roasted, grilled, or braised. It adds a wonderful element to roasted root vegetables mixes (click here for an interesting roasted root vegetable medley recipe) and is terrific in soups (see recipe below).

A popular way to serve celeriac is mashed, like potatoes, either in combination with potato, or on its own. I have also heard that celeriac chips are delicious, which can be baked or fried (celeriac chips). I was inspired this week by a recipe (click here) for using celeriac instead of pasta noodles in lasagna. While this recipe is a little complicated, I’ll do my version by simply layering the celeriac in a pan along with celeriac puree and a ragu sauce to make a more traditional style pan lasagna. I’ll send along the recipe if it turns out!

Celeriac is a terrific source of vitamin C and phosphorous. It is also a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, and Manganese. It is also quite low in calories.

Pick celeriac with crisp bright green leaves and roots with no cracks or holes. Once you get your celeriac home, cut the greens from the roots and store them separately. The leaves will last a few days, while the celery root will keep up to a few weeks. To prepare the root, first cut off each end. Stand the root up on one end. Using a sharp paring knife, cut off the hairy brown covering from top to bottom, turning the root as work your way around. Don’t try using a paring knife, as the hair and knobs get in the way.

Celeriac browns quickly, so if not using it immediately, keep it in acidulated water (i.e water with lemon juice) until you are ready to use it.


Once winter hits I start to crave lentils. I decided to try a lentil salad with celeriac and carrots and was very pleased how well the textures melded. I love the soft bite of the lentils with the pleasing crunch of the vegetables. Make sure that your carrots and celeriac are cut small enough that you can get a bit of everything in each bite.

Lentil and Celeriac Salad                                                                           Serves 4


– 1 cup French green lentils, picked over

– 3 cups homemade vegetable broth

– 1 bay leaf

– 4 medium carrots, diced small

– 2 medium celeriac, peeled and diced small, held in water with a bit of lemon juice

– 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

– zest of half lemon

– 1 clove garlic, crushed

– 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

– 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

– 2 tablespoons minced celeriac leaves


  1. In a medium pot, boil lentils and bay leaf in vegetable broth until lentils are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain lentils and discard remaining broth and bay leaf. Allow to cool.
  2. Using a hand-held blender, blend lemon juice, lemon zest, Dijon, garlic, and olive oil until mixture emulsifies. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Drain celeriac. In a medium bowl, toss cooled lentils, carrots, drained celeriac, lemon dressing, and celeriac leaves until well mixed. Add salt and pepper if necessary. Serve cold or at room temperature.


This recipe is a nod to my California upbringing and my favorite vegetable in the world, artichokes. I had once heard that artichokes and celeriac are a great combination so I tried it in this soup. I took the lazy way out and used canned artichokes, which due to the acidity in the brine, added a nice underlying acidic note.

Celeriac and Artichoke Soup with Pumpernickel Croutons              Serves 4


– 1 small onion, minced

– 2 teaspoons oil of choice

– 1 clove garlic, minced

– 1 14 ounce can artichoke hearts, well drained, tough outer leaves removed, roughly chopped

– 3 small celeriac, peeled and chopped

– 1/2 teaspoon fresh minced thyme

– 4 cups home-made or purchased vegetable broth

– 1/2 teaspoon salt, if using no salt broth; otherwise salt to taste

– 4 thick slices pumpernickel bread, cubed

– olive oil spray

– garlic salt

– 1 tablespoon minced celeriac leaves


  1. In a medium pot, heat oil over medium-low heat until hot. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is soft (do not allow it to brown). Add artichoke hearts, celeriac, thyme, broth and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until celeriac is quite soft.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350℉.   Spread bread cubes out on a rimmed baking sheet. Spray well with olive oil spray (or toss with olive oil) and sprinkle generously with garlic salt. Bake, stirring occasionally, until well toasted, about minutes.
  3. Puree soup in batches in a blender and transfer back to pan or a large bowl. If desired add a bit of cream, half in half, milk or fat free half and half to taste. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into rimmed soup bowls. Garnish with celeriac leaves and croutons just before serving.



4 thoughts on “Simply Fresh by Julie Wern”

  1. Thank you so much for your recipe and the various links to enlighten us with other ways to substitute healthier veggies in our cooking. I so appreciate your blog.

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