Chunk It Up

By Susan Olcott

“Chunk it up,” that’s the response I got when I picked up a scraggly, hairy root vegetable of some sort at the farmer’s market several winters ago. I was in an experimental cooking phase and felt drawn to things grown deep in the dirt when the dirt was buried deep under the snow. Cooking was a way to bring back some of the warmer weather through the vegetables it helped to grow. When I asked what this strange root vegetable was, the gracious woman at the farm stand told me it was celeriac, or celery root. I didn’t even know celery had a root, or a bulb.

“So, what do I do with it?” I asked. “You chunk it up,” she said. “Then you can roast it or mash it like a potato.”

I chose to chunk it and mash it and it was delicious. The next week, I was on to rutabagas, which she also advised me to “chunk up.” I put these chunks in with a roasting chicken, which was very tasty. Kohlrabi was next – this time I tossed the chunks with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted them, resulting in something like a zippier potato. I already knew and loved the sweet root vegetables like carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes, but how could I not love these new additions to my cooking lexicon – particularly with names like celeriac, rutabaga and kohlrabi? It turns out that root vegetables are not just the only local thing left you can buy at the farmer’s market in the winter, but they also super nutritious. They are nature’s amazing storage devices for the soil’s rich nutrients. Antioxidants, Vitamins A, B, C and iron are all abundant in root vegetables. They’re also full of complex carbohydrates and fiber, both of which are important for regulating blood sugar and keeping your digestive system healthy. There’s a whole lot more detail on these veggies, how to cook them, and their nutrition value at: Here are a few super easy ideas – be creative and try any of these with any mixture of root vegetables.

Mashed Celeriac and Potato

Ingredients (Serves 4-6)

1-2 Celeriac bulbs (1 lb.)

2 Russet potatoes (1 lb.)

½ cup milk

2 T butter

Salt and pepper


  1. Peel off the hairy, lumpy parts of the celeriac and cut it into 2-inch chunks. Do the same with the potatoes.
  2. Boil for 20 minutes or so until the vegetables are soft.
  3. Drain off water and mash vegetables.
  4. Mix in milk and butter.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.

Roasted Chicken and Rutabaga

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 3-½ lb. whole chicken

1 onion cut in half

2-3 rutabaga (1 ½ lb.) peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks

½ lemon

½ c chicken broth

2 ½ t kosher salt

2 t black pepper

Olive oil


  1. Heat oven to 450 F. Rinse and pat the chicken dry. Rub with olive oil. Season inside and out with salt and pepper.
  2. Place half lemon, and halved onion inside.
  3. Toss rutabaga with olive oil, salt and pepper to coat.
  4. Arrange the rutabaga around the chicken in a single layer. Add the broth and roast until the vegetables are tender and the chicken reaches 165 F (45-60 minutes) and the juices run clear.
  5. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Kohlrabi and Apple Slaw

Ingredients (Serves 4)

2 kohlrabi bulbs (1 lb.)

2 apples (any local variety you can get, or granny smith)

½ c Greek yogurt

2 T apple cider vinegar

2 t honey

1 t mustard

Salt and pepper


  1. Peel and shred the kohlrabi and apples using a box grater or food processor.
  2. Mix together yogurt, vinegar, honey and mustard. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Toss dressing with vegetables.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to eat. This gets better the longer it sits.