Autumn and winter are a time of changing tastes, as we naturally crave warm, hearty comfort foods. This can have a downside, as it’s easy to slip into bad habits such as eating too much fatty food or filling up on stodge. The positive effect is that you have an opportunity to experiment with seasonal ingredients and discover new recipes.
One of the more unusual vegetables that’s in season right now is celeriac. This funky-looking, knobbly root vegetable is related to celery, and is incredibly nutritious. It is a good source of vitamin K, which helps protect your bones; as well as B-vitamns, vitamin C, and minerals including phosphorus, iron, calcum and copper In short: lots of good stuff for your body! This is a tasty recipe for a vegetarian lentil and celeriac dish from Yotam Ottolenghi to get you started!
This dish is substantial enough to make a satisfying main course. The earthy flavours of the nuts and the lentils are balanced by the sharpness of the vinegar and the fresh mint. A piece of advice: don’t be mean with the salt – lentils need a lot of it. You can serve this warm, with a cucumber and dill salad, dressed with sour cream and olive oil; or allow it to cool down and take it with you for a picnic or a brunch with friends. Serves four.
200g puy lentils
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 small celeriac, peeled and cut into 1cm chips
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp hazelnut oil
3 tbsp cider vinegar
6 tbsp fresh mint, leaves picked and washed
Preheat the oven to 140C/275F/ gas mark 1. Scatter the hazelnuts over a baking tray and roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, set aside to cool down, then chop roughly.
Put the lentils, water, bay leaves and thyme sprigs in a small saucepan. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the lentils are al dente, then drain into a sieve. Remove and discard the bay leaves and the woody sprigs.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, bring plenty of water to a boil, drop in the celeriac, along with the lemon juice and some salt, and simmer for 12 minutes, or until just tender. Drain.
In a large bowl, mix the hot lentils (make sure they don’t cool down – lentils soak up flavours much better when they’re piping hot) with the olive oil, two tablespoons of the hazelnut oil, the vinegar, a few grinds of black pepper and plenty of salt. Add the celeriac, stir, taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
If you’re serving this straight away, stir in half the mint and the hazelnuts, then pile in a big heap on to a suitable serving dish. Drizzle the remaining hazelnut oil over the top, then garnish with the rest of the mint and nuts.
If you’re planning on serving it cold, wait for the lentil and celeriac mixture to cool down, taste again, then make a final adjustment to the seasoning. Add the rest of the hazelnut oil, the mint and the nuts just as you do when serving it hot.
Do you have a good celeriac recipe? Please share in the comments.