This week when V and I are out riding we can feel the change in the air… As the weeks pass and the weather changes, we begin to experience the chilly Autumn days. As we ride past the tip of Lake Washington at Log Boom Park and onto the Burke Gilman Trail, smokey bonfire, apple tree and pine needle scents fill the air. And while outside we have campfires and s’mores, inside we crave delicious, wholesome and substantial dishes made on wood burning stoves with scents of roasted nuts, vanilla, pumpkin, nutmeg, mint, and sage.
In this dish caramelized root vegetables gracefully combine with roasted hazelnuts, green lentils and fresh mint… Celeriac is probably my favorite root. It is delicate, yet very nutty, and has an elegant potato-like smoothness. Like all good vegetables, it is marvelous simply with a bit of olive oil and sea salt. Here, it marries with the lentils and hazelnuts to create a hearty autumn main course. Serve it warm, with a radish, cucumber and dill salad dressed with greek yogurt and olive oil. Or allow it to cool down, then take it to work for lunch or on a picnic. Either way, it is simply delicious.
Yield: 4 Servings
1/3 cup whole hazelnuts (skin on)
1 cup Puy (green) lentils
3 cups water
2 bay leaves
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1 small celeriac (celery root) (1 1/2 lbs), peeled and cut into 3/8 inch chips
2 tbsp olive oil
5 tbsp hazelnut oil
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and black pepper
4 tbsp chopped mint
Preheat the oven to 275 deg F. 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 to 20 minutes, or until they are al dente. Drain in a sieve and pull out any bare sticks left from the thyme springs.
Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, cook the celeriac in plenty of boiling salted water for 8 to 12 minutes, or until just tender. Drain.
In a large bowl mix the hot lentils (if they are cooled down they will not soak up the flavors) with the olive oil, 4 tablespoons of the hazelnut oil, the vinegar, plenty of salt and some black pepper. Add the celeriac and stir well. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
To serve right away, stir in half the mint and half the hazelnuts. Pile into a serving dish 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 hazelnuts in the same way as serving hot.
Recipe: Yotam Ottolenghi