Celeriac is a perfect winter staple. It’s another winter root* vegetable that we tend to confine to soups, or a purée if we’re feeling chef-y. It certainly excels at both, but I wanted to broaden the repertoire here. Celeriac for me bridges the gap between comforting and (dare I say) healthy with its velvety texture and hint of nuttiness, and the light freshness that comes from the celery flavour. It certainly lends itself well to a winter salad or slaw, but I’ve leaned in to the cosy, hug-on-a-plate side of celeriac for this recipe. The smooth texture that makes celeriac a good candidate for mash or purée, also makes it absolutely melt in your mouth when it’s roasted.
*Plant geek moment: So technically celeriac isn’t a root, but a hypocotyl, so the part that we eat is the part that grows between the top of the roots and the first leaf. That’s why celeriac has all the little knobbly roots growing out of the bottom of it – because it isn’t actually a root itself.
I thought mushrooms would be a perfect accompaniment to my roasted celeriac steaks, and wild mushrooms even better. I love to forage, but mushrooms are an area I haven’t delved into much so far. The main reason is actually that there just aren’t that many around where I live, but also mushroom foraging can be lethal if you get it wrong. That’s why I prefer to stick to either gathering mushrooms that I absolutely know how to identify, or to buy them from a local expert or grower. Fabulous Fungi grow their mushrooms from their home in rural Suffolk and sell them at my local farmers’ market. As soon as I saw their little punnets of Hen of the Woods mushrooms I knew I had my celeriac accompaniment. Hen of the Woods has a lovely firm texture and an earthy, umami flavour that gives the dish depth without overwhelming it. The addition of sage helps to bring out the mushrooms’ meatiness to dial up the comfort levels.
Pickled walnuts are the traditional British ingredient that nobody has really heard of, but they have been around since the 18th century. According to Wikipedia pickled walnuts are “commonly” eaten in England at Christmas time…that might be a stretch. Having said that, I think they might be making a comeback, and they certainly work well in this recipe.
Together these ingredients form a mouthwatering combination that might not look that colourful on the plate, but is packed full of richness and flavour. This is a delicious veggie dish that would be just as at home on a dinner party menu as it is as a cosy midweek supper.
Celeriac Steaks with Sage Mushrooms & Pickled Walnuts Recipe
- 1 whole celeriac peeled and sliced into inch-thick “steaks”
- 1 tbsp white miso (optional)
- Vegetable oil
- Handful of Hen of the Woods mushrooms (or substitute for any other seasonal wild mushrooms or chestnut mushrooms would work too)
- Sprig of fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
- Knob butter (or use oil for vegan alternative)
- 3-4 pickled walnuts, diced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas Mark 6.
- Place the celeriac on a baking tray and drizzle generously with vegetable oil. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes before turning the steaks and continuing to roast for another 15 minutes. Take the stakes out of the oven and, if using miso, brush the miso on to the top of the steaks and finish off roasting for another 15 minutes. If not using miso, season with salt and pepper and continue roasting.
- While the celeriac is finishing in the oven, melt the butter (or oil if using) in a frying pan over a medium heat. Tear the mushrooms into the pan along with the chopped sage and sauté until the mushrooms are soft and nicely browned at the edges.
- Remove the celeriac from the oven and serve with the mushrooms and pickled walnuts.
Do you have a favourite celeriac recipe? Or is there another winter vegetable that could do with some new recipes to really show it off?