Apple, Celery Root, and Fennel Purée

In general, Kentucky natives eat boring food, like really.  Everyone around here is all KFC, all the time. “Greens,” “conebread,” “casaro” are babies’ first words.  And there’s nothing wrong with that!  I like my state’s food as much as the next southern belle, but there comes a time when the mashed potatoes start gettin’ old.  My neighbors  probably can’t tell the difference between jícama, rutabaga, and celeriac . . . oh wait . . . that was me. :)

After accidentally grabbing a rutabaga instead of a celery root, I nursed my bruised ego and headed back to the store. These herbaceous orbs aren’t easy to find in central Kentucky; you have been warned.  I wasn’t about to give up easily because Ina Garten (AKA “How good is that!?”) introduced me to this recipe a few Thanksgivings ago, and Mom and I have been hooked ever since.

It’s a simple procedure. Apples, celeriac, fennel, and potatoes simmer in a mixture of butter and apple cider to create the best substitute to mashed potatoes EVER.  After the chunks are tender, I used a food processor to purée the mix to a creamy texture.  The mouthfeel is like mashed potatoes, but the flavor is better. Instead of a one-note carb bomb, you’ll have a symphony of subtly tart, anise-flavored, apple-sweetened goodness.  If you’d like, cream can be added for richness, but I honesty don’t think it’s necessary; I wouldn’t lie. (Coming from the girl who sometimes/maybe/still eats plain butter).

The best compliment on this dish was my mothers, “I want this every year. It’s our new Thanksgiving staple.”  I realize I’m a little behind on the whole Thanksgiving wrap-up, but it’s not too late to find these ingredients.  Kentuckians may need a little encouragement to try new things, but I have faith in my Wildcats. This dish is more nutritious than KFC, and definitely not a far cry from the traditional mash.  I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

Apple, Celery Root, and Fennel Purée

Adapted from Ina Garten.  The original recipe is quite rich! I’m providing Ina’s version, but with my own variations.  I strongly suggest a food processor instead of a food mill (assuming you even have one of those things).  The processor is easier to use, and gives a much smoother result.  As for the celeriac, buy more than you’ll need.  After peeling, you will find that the weight has reduced by about a third.


  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup large-diced fennel bulb, tops and core removed (I used 1.5 cups)
  • 2 pounds celery root, peeled and (3/4-inch) diced
  • 8 ounces Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and (3/4-inch) diced
  • 3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and (3/4-inch) diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup good apple cider
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (Adjust to taste)


Melt the butter over medium heat in a shallow pot or large saute pan. Add the fennel, celery root, potatoes, apples, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Saute the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the cider and tightly cover the pot. Simmer over low heat for 40-50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft. If the vegetables begin to burn or they seem dry, *which has never ever happened to me* add another few tablespoons of apple cider or some water.

Add optional cream and cook for 1 more minute. *Here, I strained off the excess butter.* Transfer the mixture to a food mill/processor and blend until smooth. Taste for salt and pepper and return to the pot to keep warm. Serve warm.

14 Responses to “Apple, Celery Root, and Fennel Purée”
  1. Marissa says:

    I’m asking for a kitchen scale for Christmas, and yours looks very nice. How long have you had it? Does is work well? Do you like it? I’ve just read reviews about it that said the digital numbers went out within 3 months of owning it.

    • I bought my kitchen scale from William Sonoma, probably three years ago! I’ve never had a problem with it. I’ve only had to change the batteries once. It’s very easy to use, and measures in all sorts of different systems (oz, mL, grams, etc.) Based on my experience, I’d recommend it!

  2. Wei-Wei says:

    You’re really cute! And this sounds delicious, and fall-y, and very nutritious to boot ;)

  3. Erika says:

    Mmmmm…different, but it looks so good. :-)

  4. I’ve learned to like pureed cauliflower as a great potato substitute, but this sounds so much more intriguing! And you describe it so well I want to go out and buy some celery root and the stores aren’t even open!

  5. Mindy says:

    Where did you end up finding the celery root. I remember looking for it right after I moved to Kentucky eight years ago, and that experience was so exhausting that I gave up!

    • I had to go alll the wayyy to Whole Foods in Lex, but it’s worth it. Good Foods also has it in season. I’m up there pretty frequently, so I don’t mind the stop. Maybe we could petition Kroger. :)

  6. says:

    Do you think the celeriac root would be in the Whole Foods in Louisville? Lexington is 2 1/2 hours drive for me? It looks good.

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