Celeriac is one of the most versatile of all our winter veg, so get grating, roasting or mashing it now
With all the actual crises going on in the world right now, Im not sure how seriously I can take the courgette shortage that has left the spiralising brigade reeling. Im all for eating vegetables, and certainly wouldnt wish bad weather on any producer, but there isnt any need to eat courgettes just now. If we want green things at this time of year, we should be eating dark winter greens such as kale, cavolo nero and sprouting broccoli, not courgettes, which arent designed to battle their way through frosts and rain.
Now is also the best time to eat veg that has been hiding away under the surface over winter, protecting itself from the elements as nature intended it to. Celeriac is my current favourite, not least because its so versatile: grated raw in asalad, as you would beetroot or carrot; mashed as an alternative to potato; roasted whole or in a gratin; blitzed in a soup I could go on. Im told celeriac also works very well when spiralised and lightly steamed, but Im not sure Ill be going there.
Celeriac rsti with caper and celery salsa
This is a dish for any time of the day: for brunch (with some crisp bacon, maybe?), or for a light meal or first course. Makes 10 rsti, to serve two to four.
1 celeriac, peeled and coarsely grated
1 small desiree potato, peeled and coarsely grated
1 banana shallot, peeled and thinly sliced (use a mandolin, if you have one)
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and black pepper
tsp each coriander seeds, celery seeds and caraway seeds, toasted and finely crushed
garlic clove, peeled and crushed
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp plain flour
Vegetable oil, for frying
100g soured cream, to serve
For the salsa
small shallot, peeled and very finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
10g basil leaves, finely shredded
10g parsley, finely chopped
15g capers, roughly chopped
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 1tbsp juice
1 tbsp olive oil
Combine the celeriac, potato, shallot and lemon juice in a medium bowl with two teaspoons of salt, then tip into a sieve lined with a clean tea towel or cheesecloth. Set the sieve over a bowl and leave for 30 minutes, for the liquid to drain off. Draw together the edges of the towel, then wring it a few times, to get rid of as much water as possible. Transfer to a clean bowl and combine with the spices, garlic, eggs and flour. Using your hands, form the mix into 10 6cm-wide patties, compressing the rsti as you make them, to squeeze out any remaining liquid.
Put all the salsa ingredients in aseparate bowl, add a generous grind of pepper and mix to combine.
Pour enough oil into a medium-sized nonstick frying pan to come 1.5cm up the sides. Put the pan on a medium heat and, once the oil is very hot, fry the rsti in batches for seven minutes, turning them a few times, until crisp and golden-brown all over. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen towel and keep warm while you cook the rest of the rsti. Serve at once with the salsa and a spoonful of soured cream.
Celeriac gnocchi with bone marrow and parsley
If you dont want to make the gnocchi, this rich, buttery bone marrow sauce also works well with plain pasta. Serves four as a first course or two as a main.
1 large celeriac, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
1 egg yolk
tsp celery seeds
40g parmesan, finely grated
Salt and black pepper
120g plain flour, sifted
500ml beef stock
For the bone marrow
700g bone marrow boats, each about 10cm long (a boat is when the bone is cut in half lengthways; ask the butcher to do this)
garlic clove, peeled and finely grated
10g parsley leaves, finely chopped
Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Put the celeriac in a medium pot, add boiling water to cover, turn the heat to medium-high and cook for 15 minutes, until very soft. Drain, transfer to a food processor and blitz into a very smooth mash. Transfer this to a sieve lined with a clean tea towel or cheesecloth and, once it has cooled down enough to handle, draw in the sides of the towel and wring a few times, to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Leave to drain for 30 minutes.
While the celeriac is cooking, lay the marrow bones cut side up on an oven tray lined with greaseproof paper. Season with a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of pepper, then roast until the marrow is soft, golden on top and bubbling around the edges: depending on the size of your bones, this will take anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes. Scrape the marrow from the bones into a small bowl (you should end up with about 60g marrow), then drain off any fat, and keep it for later. Roughly chop the marrow and set aside.
Transfer the celeriac mash, which should by now weigh about 300g, to a medium bowl, and mix in the egg yolk, celery seeds, three-quarters of the parmesan, half a teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of pepper.
Scatter 100g flour on to a clean, dry work surface. Spoon the celeriac mash over the flour and, using your hands or a dough scraper, bring the two together into a dough. It will be very sticky, so you may need to wash and dry your hands a few times along the way. Cut the dough into eight equal pieces. Scatter the rest ofthe flour on the work surface and roll each piece out into 2cm-thick ropes. Cut these into 2.5cm-long gnocchi, then roll each one lightly in flour and transfer to a tray lined with greaseproof paper.
Fill a medium pot with the beef stock, 500ml water and a teaspoon of salt and bring to the boil. Drop in the gnocchi and cook for about threeminutes, until they all float to the top. Lift out the cooked gnocchi with a slotted spoon or sieve (dont discard the stock: it can be reused, in a soup or gravy, for example), anddrizzle with a teaspoon or two of the reserved marrow fat to stop them sticking together.
Put a large nonstick frying pan on a medium-high heat. Saute the bone marrow and garlic for a minute, add the gnocchi, parsley and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt, scatter over the remaining parmesan and a generous grind of pepper, and toss to combine. Serve at once.