lentil celeriac herb salad with hazelnuts

February 28, 2015

celeriac lentil

If you cook seasonally, this is a great winter salad for you. You can still find celeriac at the farmers’ market and, anyway, it stores for a long time. Lentils you should have in your pantry; nuts in your freezer. Some fresh mint is a mid-winter luxury to get at the grocery store but well worth it. With these few ingredients you can whip up a fabulously tasty warm winter salad. And you benefit from celeriac’s medicinal properties to boot. Having been around for about 40o0 years, historians note that the “Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans considered celery a gift from the gods and divided celery’s medicinal properties sexually: the strong stalks that grew upward from the ground were judged to be a cure for all masculine dysfunctions, while the root that swelled beneath the earth’s surface was prescribed for female disorders.” Crazy but true. And why not?

1/3 cup whole hazelnuts (skin on)

1 cup Puy lentils

3 cups water

2 bay leaves

4 thyme sprigs

1 small celeriac, peeled and cut into 1cm chunks

4 tbsps olive oil

3 tbsps hazelnut oil

3 tbsps good-quality red wine vinegar

4 tbsps chopped mint

salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Scatter the hazelnuts on a small baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Let them cool down, then chop roughly.

Combine the lentils, water, bay leaves and thyme in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15–20 minutes, or until al dente. Drain in a sieve.

Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, cook the celeriac in plenty of boiling salted water for 8–12 minutes, or until just tender. Drain.

In a large bowl mix the hot lentils (if they have cooled down they won’t soak up all the flavours) with the olive oil, 2 tablespoons of the hazelnut oil, the vinegar, some black pepper and plenty of salt. Add the celeriac and stir well. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

To serve straight away, stir in half the mint and half the hazelnuts. Pile onto a serving dish or in a bowl and drizzle the remaining hazelnut oil on top. Garnish with the rest of the mint and hazelnuts.

To serve cold, wait for the lentils and celeriac to cool down before finally adjusting the seasoning and possibly adding some more vinegar, if you like. Add hazelnut oil, mint and nuts in the same way as when serving hot.

From Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem

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