Embrace Your Roots… A Turkish Celeriac Dish

Long long time ago, when I spent my first winter here in the U.S., the trips to the grocery stores were somewhere between surprising and nervous breakdown. I was seeing some of the vegetables for the first time in my life (bok choys, anyone!) and also I was not seeing some vegetables that I had a serious craving for…like purslane and celery root.

My friend who used to take me to the grocery stores (I did not have a car back then), would explain patiently as a who-has-seen-it-all foreign student that I needed to give up some vegetables, because they do not eat celery roots here but only celery stalks (the opposite of Turkey), and that I’d better love the stalks from now on…etc…etc…

I did not touch the stalks for 7 years!

But now… I can make peace with the stalks because the roots are back! At least, somehow celeriac has been rediscovered and put back on the shelves or  I have moved to a bigger city apparently where I have more options.

Why celeriac – or any root vegetable for that matter? Because they are hardy, full of vitamins, high in fiber, and they’ve been proven to be good for your health for centuries. They can stay in your fridge for a while without going bad. This is the time when they come out of the soil, into the sunshine and wait for us to turn these bumpy, ugly looking roots into something delicious.

In Turkey, we usually prepare celeriac as a side dish, cooked in olive oil with potatoes and carrots, served cold. It’s also used in beef stews, replacing potatoes. Or raw celeriac can be grated very thin and mixed with mayonnaise and herbs to be served as a some sort of dip. For this dish, you can either slice up some thick rounds and prepare the other vegetables to be a filling for these rounds, or dice the celeriac and mix with the other vegetables. In terms of presentation, thick rounds of root filled with colorful vegetables make it a much nicer view.

Now I should call my friend who has moved back to Turkey since then and tell her that I do not need to give up my vegetables anymore.

Turkish Celeriac Side Dish

  • 2 celeriac roots (peeled, either sliced in half-inch thick rounds or chopped in cubes)
  • Stalks and leaves of the roots (good ones, finely chopped)
  • 5 carrots (diced)
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 2 medium potatoes (diced)
  • ½ cup of sweet peas (optional)
  • ½ cup of fresh dill
  • lemon juice from half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • Approximately 1/3 cup of water-orange juice combination (ratio of water to juice does not matter, the more juice the better)

1. Soak the peeled, chopped or sliced roots in a bowl with water and lemon juice while you are chopping the other veggies.
2. Combine the stalks, carrots, onion, potatoes, and peas (if you are using them).
3. Cover the bottom of a wide pot with the olive oil.
4. If you are using sliced round roots, place them on the bottom of the pot, and mound them with equal amounts of the other vegetables. If you are using chopped root, just mix them with the vegetables and put them in the pot.

5. Pour in the water/orange juice mixture. It should come about half way up to the roots, if you are using round slices.
6. Cover the pot, bring it to a boil and then turn the heat down to low-medium. Cook it covered for another 30-40 minutes or until the root is tender when you test with a fork.
7. Serve cold with chopped dill on top.


  1. by Beth Anne
    11:01 pm
    Oct 16, 2011

    I have seen the roots attached at some of the specialty markets in town but didn’t realize that it was edible :) How much do you peel away?

  2. by Ilke
    6:24 am
    Oct 17, 2011

    Guess about 1/4 of an inch what I could peel away. I had to work in sections, and maybe peeled away more than what I supposed to do but it is hard to peel away a thin layer. Worked with a knife though, a vegetable peeler might give a better/different result.

  3. by Annie J
    12:44 pm
    Oct 17, 2011

    I love celeriac! I love it any way one can make it. One of my favorites is mashed in place of potatoes with dill. I can’t wait to try this dish.

  4. by Ilke
    9:08 pm
    Oct 17, 2011

    That is a very great version of celeriac dish! I would love to try it sometime Annie!

  5. by foodie @ Tasting Spot
    5:57 pm
    Oct 17, 2011

    i really like your food pictures and want to invite you to try out tastingspot.com. it’s for anyone that just wants another place to submit photos and share it will other foodies. It’s still in beta version, but would love for you to start adding some photos and help get it going.

  6. by Liz
    7:10 am
    Oct 18, 2011

    I bought celeriac once to use in a recipe…but it was spongy inside. Ick. You’ve convinced me to try it again…your veggie dish looks fabulous~

  7. by Shelley
    5:54 pm
    Oct 18, 2011

    I think you’re right- certain vegetables seemed to go out of fashion but now with the advent of the heirloom seed craze, more and more once forgotten vegtables are coming back. Also, there’s nothing new under the sun so bored chefs are probably looking to old traditions for new influence. So glad your favorite is available to you again!

  8. by Tanvi@SinfullySpicy
    7:27 pm
    Oct 18, 2011

    So So colorful Ilke..this is like my kinds dish..veggies & so healthy.Never tried celeriac roots coz its but I feel like now. Glad that you shared this recipe …
    P.S – Replied to your comment @ my blog.

  9. by Lana
    5:05 pm
    Oct 19, 2011

    In Serbia, we use the celery root only as an aromatic, necessary for any kind of soup. I have been ogling bunches of them at the farmers’ market, wondering what else I could use them for, and now you have given me an idea! My mom loves the taste of celery and this is such a pretty and healthy dish that I think everybody will enjoy it:)

  10. by Ilke
    10:41 pm
    Oct 19, 2011

    Lana, if you make it, I hope your mom likes it! Give my best to your mom. Don’t know her personally but I almost know her through your stories. This virtual connection and closeness thing is a weird thing, for sure!

  11. by Parsley Sage
    9:53 am
    Oct 20, 2011

    I’ve never had celeriac before but as I continue trying new veggies I’ve found that some of my favorites are the root variety :) I bet I’d LOVE this dish!

  12. by Jeanette
    9:16 pm
    Oct 20, 2011

    I just roasted some celeriac the other night, but I like the idea of braising it as you have in this Turkish dish.

  13. by Katherine Martinelli
    6:13 am
    Oct 22, 2011

    I love celeriac! It’s definitely not something I ate growing up in the States but am so glad it’s widely available now. This dish looks exquisite!

  14. by Lisa @ Tarte du Jour
    6:18 pm
    Oct 26, 2011

    Your dish looks delicious! I’m a big fan of celeriac too. We call it celery root. Whenever I make mashed potatoes, I love to put “celery root” in there too… yummm!


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