In my kitchen, vegetables rule. Take celery root for example. It’s gnarly, hairy, and by all appearances unattractive. But when you peel off it’s crazy exterior, you find the coolest, creamiest flesh underneath that’s divine in fall salads, veggie roasts, or hearty soups. When I get the chance to turn kids and adults onto fun new vegetable finds, like this past Wednesday at Whole Foods Market® San Mateo, where we made our Crazy Cool Celery Root Salad, I jump for joy.
Kids are natural explorers. When you set the right environment for exploration of fresh foods, kids will go there with you every time. I’m not saying they’ll love the taste of every last bite, but the sensory journey of smelling, touching, and hands-on preparation of the dish is totally something they are up for. At JoyFoodly®, we love partnering with like minded organizations who know this too, and who make it possible for kids to have positive experiences with vegetables and fruits to grow good eaters for the future. That’s why I was especially excited to teach our recent class to benefit Whole Kids Foundation. They are not only helping schools across the country build school gardens and fund salad bars in the cafeteria, but they are also inspiring and helping families back at home make the learning keep on going!
So when you make this Crazy Cool Celery Root Salad for your family, be sure to make it an adventure. Here are my tips for how to engage your kids to love exploring this cool fall vegetable and fruit salad back at home:
Touch, hold, and look at the ingredients
- What do you notice? The celery root and apples are a cream color, so what other colors are we using to brighten up our dish? Dried cranberries!
- How about any green? Yep–the tarragon and the chives.
- Feel the hairy celery root–super cool or kinda weird? What about after we peel it?
Taste the ingredients separately
- Have your kids smell things before they taste them. Smell the tarragon! What about the other ingredients? Does the apple smell? What about the celery root? Can you smell the nuts toasting in the pan?
- Taste one of the ingredients your kids already know like an apple; then let them try a dried cranberry. Which is sweeter? Which is crunchy? Which is tangy?
Let your children help with the prep
- Letting kids measure out and make the salad dressing is a great way to get them involved. Grab a mason jar and let them start shaking!
- Kids can also tear herbs with their hands or sprinkle nuts and cranberries over the salad to decorate. Any involvement will build positive food experiences–regardless of whether they love the taste of the final dish.
Never prepared a celery root at home? Have no fear! In just under two minutes, I’ll teach you how to master this crazy cool vegetable.
- Celeriac (celery root), 2 small (or 1 large)
- Apples (or can use pears), 2
- Dried cranberries, ¼ cup
- Walnuts, ½ cup
- Chives, 1 bunch
- Plain Greek yogurt, 1 cup
- Rice wine vinegar, 1 TBS
- Dijon mustard, 1 TBS
- Lemon, ½ (plus its zest)
- Fresh tarragon, 2 TBS loosely packed (or dried, 1 TBS)
- Honey (or agave), 1 TBS
- Salt, ¾ tsp.
- Pepper, ¼ tsp.
- Take 5 minutes to get out all your ingredients, measuring and cooking equipment needed, and place them on a cookie sheet within easy reach.
- Wash all produce. Celery roots are especially dirty. Be sure to wash them well and when removing their outer skin with a knife, you may need to rinse again after peeling off their dirty outer skin.
- First make the tarragon yogurt dressing: combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a food processor or blender and pulse. Pour into a medium sized bowl.
- Cut either end off the celeriac to create a flat surface. Use a knife to cut off the hard rind all around. Rinse before cutting further. Cut into med size pieces and grate on a cheese grater or for a quick grating using a food processor.
- Place the celeriac in the bowl where you poured the dressing. It’s best if the celeriac can sit in the dressing for 15-30 minutes before serving.
- Dice pears. You can leave the skin on or peel it.
- In a dry pan over med high heat, toast the walnuts until they are lightly brown, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the diced pears and cranberries to the bowl of celeriac and toss together.
- Crumble toasted walnuts with your hands once they are cool and add to the salad.
- Cut and garnish the salad with some chives on top.
If you’re looking for more ways to cook simple, yet nourishing meals for your family, join my Joyful 12 Kitchen Learning Lab. It’s a members only course for busy parents and adults. We cook nine veggies and three fruits together each season with other families that are looking for time saving ways to cook great food for their loved ones. Join the Joyful 12.