Celery Root Mash with Saffron Sauce

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Celery Roots

Celery Roots

Sometimes I believe I should work for a supermarket and place myself in the vegetable section – giving tips and ideas to shoppers on how to prepare some of the lesser known veggies or even fruits. Just the other day I heard a woman ask the produce manager how to prepare celery root. He told her to peel it, cut it, and oven roast the cubes so the flavor wouldn’t be overwhelming. I couldn’t help myself – I interjected and told her how I mash celery root, what to serve with the final dish…and I then emailed her this recipe! Then I heard another gentleman ask about parsnips, but enough was enough and I kept shopping.

You know the adage “Make New Friends, But Keep the Old…” It’s like that with my recipes. I love to try new things, but I keep the old tried and true ones around as well. I’ve been saving recipes on my computer for over 15 years!! BUT I often forget about things I have made that are really good…so last year I started a folder called “Things I LOVE.” This simple addition helps me when I am in the mood for a tried and true dish and I am out of ideas.

My son was visiting his aunt (my Sister Sue) in Santa Cruz a few months ago and she made a marvelous dinner for him… and he was especially excited about the celery root! I often use celery root in the winter but I usually just cube it, steam it and add a bit of lemon juice and olive oil. It’s really good, but the silky smooth potato-like texture of Susan’s mash my son raved about really appealed to me. I called and asked her what the heck she did to make the puree.

Celery Root Mash with Saffron Sauce

Celery Root Mash with Saffron Sauce

Turns out this recipe she made came from a class we sisters had taken at The Inn at Meander Plantation in 2007!  Classic…I just forgot about it. This week I made the celery root using milk in place of cream and the flavor and texture of the puree was heavenly. Two of us consumed over half of this recipe, which is supposed to feed 5-6 people. I served it with some roasted fish and a warm salad made with kale and rainbow carrots.

Celery Root Mash

Serves 5-6



  • 3 large celery roots, peeled and diced ½ inch
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • A mixture of one cup of water and one cup of milk (I had 2 % milk) to cover the celery root cubes
  • 3 Tbsp butter or good olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt + more to taste after it is cooked
  • Ground white pepper to taste (black pepper wouldn’t look as pretty)

Put peeled and cubed celery root and garlic into a 3-quart sauce pan. Barely cover the cubes with water/milk and bring to a gentle simmer. (BE CAREFUL!! For some reason this always boils over on my stove and I end up doing a lot of swearing and cleaning.) Add a half a teaspoon salt and cover, keeping at a low simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the celery root is very, very soft. Pour the contents of the pot into a strainer.

Place the still warm, cooked cubes of celery root and garlic into a food processor and puree with the butter or oil, scraping down the sides. The mix should be perfectly smooth. like airy mashed potatoes. Add more salt and white ground pepper to taste.

Use in place of mashed potatoes and serve with fish, chicken, or a main dish like Portobello mushrooms.

And If I need color on the plate – and I usually want lots of color – I drizzle each serving of mash with this Saffron reduction.

Barcelona cooking school

At the Cook and Taste Cooking school in Barcelona, Spain where I learned about Saffron.

Saffron Sauce

  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. saffron threads
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt & white pepper to taste

Pour vinegar into a small sauce pan, stir in saffron and cook over very low heat until the vinegar is reduced by half – to about two tablespoons. Let it cool for five minutes, then whisk in two tablespoons of olive oil. Season with ¼-½ tsp fine sea salt and white pepper.

Drizzle lightly over mashed celery root, mashed cauliflower or even mashed potatoes to give it color. I also use this over seared halibut or any white fish that needs a shot of the unusual.

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