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