If celeriac is the Cinderella of the vegetable world, then Ottolenghi is surely the fairy godmother. Having just received a copy of his most recent cookery book, I am yet again completely inspired by recipe after recipe that turn mundanities into marvels. Beautiful vegetables, like asparagus and fennel, are easy; they are as gorgeous raw as they are cooked. But it takes a bit of magic to think up new ways with cabbage, parsnips and Jerusalem artichokes. And what I always find astonishing is that, unlike most cookbooks, his are rammed with truly new, not derivative, ideas. This combination of celeriac, hazelnuts and lentils, for example, is, once you’ve tried it, madly obvious. After all, the main ingredients share an earthy and nutty taste. But I’ve never come across it before. If like me, you bought a monster celeriac the other week, you may be happy to get rid of the rest of it in this. I didn’t have any hazelnut oil so I used walnut and I bet you could replace the hazelnuts with walnuts too. Lovely warm as well as cold the next day. And, yes, I do realise I made one of his recipes last week too. And, no, I’m not on commission.
Celeriac, lentil and hazelnut salad (adapted from Plenty)
For two you will need:
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
olive oil, 2 tablespoons
red wine vinegar, 1½ tablespoons
sea salt and black pepper
whole hazelnuts (skin on), 30g
Puy lentils, 100g
fresh thyme sprigs, a couple
hazelnut oil, 1½ tablespoons
fresh mint, 2 tablespoons
1. Preheat the oven to 140°C/120°C fan-assisted/gas 1. Peel the celeriac, then chop it into small pieces (cubes or chip shapes).
2. Put the lentils, 350ml of water, bay leaf and thyme into a saucepan, bring to the boil and then simmer for about 15-20 minutes unti the lentils are tender, not bullet-like, when you try them. Once cooked, drain them in a sieve or fine-holed colander.
3. Whilst the lentils are cooking, sort out the nuts and celeriac. Put the hazelnuts onto a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. Leave them to cool and then chop roughly. And put the celeriac into a pan of boiling salted water and cook for about 8-10 minutes until tender.
4. When the lentils are done, tip them into a large salad bowl, add the olive oil, one tablespoon of the nut oil and the vinegar. Add the celeriac, taste and season, then add the nuts and mint.
4. Serve drizzled with the rest of the nut oil.