This is just the kind of simple, healthy and flavorful dish we all need in order to recover from the holidays. The recipe is from Yotam Ottolenghi’s beautiful vegetarian cookbook, Plenty, which I have been coveting for a long time now. I’ve tasted many of his recipes and always loved their balance and flavor combinations, but I just never got around to ordering the book for myself until my recent trip to the States. I spent the first week flipping through the pages before going to bed, marking the recipes I wanted to try with sticky notes. I stopped myself when I realized I was marking almost every page, and decided it was time to stop reading and start cooking!
Celeriac and lentils with hazelnuts and mint
- 1/3 c. (60 g) whole hazelnuts
- 1 c. (200 g) Puy lentils
- 3 c. (700 ml) water
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 small celeriac (1.5 lbs), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch strips
- Salt and pepper
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp hazelnut oil
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 4 tbsp chopped fresh mint
Preheat the oven to 275°F / 140°C. 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 the 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.