Roasted Apples and Celeriac with Maple-Bacon

I love trying new foods and experimenting with ingredients that are bit more unusual (case in point: tonight's meal was tagliatelle with sauted bearded tooth mushrooms in a white wine cream sauce). I realize many people are less adventurous and would probably prefer to pass on foods they have never seen before. 
 
Celeriac (A.K.A. celery root) is one veggie that many have never witnessed on their plates. Until it is peeled, celeriac is one gnarly looking bulbous root. Once the hairy outer layer is removed, a clean white vegetable is revealed. Celeriac has a crisp crunch if eaten raw but can also be cooked. It has a familiar flavor resembling a cross between mild celery, parsley and a hint of nuttiness.

When I used to work at a health clinic, I would counsel new moms on how to introduce unfamiliar foods to their young kiddos. Besides the suggestion to try the new food multiple times, I often recommended that new foods be introduced along with known foods that the child loves. 
 
This Roasted Apples and Celeriac with Maple-Bacon recipe combines the unfamiliar celeriac with the who-doesn’t-like-it-ingredients: apples, maple syrup and bacon. So even though celeriac might be unfamiliar and unsightly at first glance, go ahead and try it…you may just like it!

Roasted Apples and Celeriac with Maple-Bacon (adapted recipe from Sept/Oct 2012 Eating Well Magazine)

1 large celeriac peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 Tbsp. olive oil
black pepper to taste
2 apples cut into 1 inch cubes (Thierbach Orchards, Marthasville, MO)
2 slices bacon, chopped (The Farmers' Larder, Washington, MO)
¼ cup pure maple syrup (Morris Maple Leaf Farm, Lake Odessa, MI)
1 tsp. fresh thyme or rosemary, chopped (my backyard)
 
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss celeriac in oil and pepper and spread onto a baking sheet. Roast until starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Add apples, toss and roast about 10 minutes more.
2. Meanwhile cook bacon in a skillet until crispy. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to cool. Discard bacon fat from skillet, then add the maple syrup and simmer while gently scraping the bits.
3. Toss the bacon, roasted celeriac, apples, and thyme (or rosemary) in the maple syrup glaze; roast for about 5 minutes more and serve.
 

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