Sunday, October 24, 2010

Celeriac and Lentils with Hazelnut and Mint

Apparently, I tried celeriac for the first time a year ago. It's such an ugly vegetable, but I've become quite fond of it.
It's strange, I mean to make more meat, but I still find myself oddly drawn to vegetarian food ... and it doesn't help that Ottolenghi's Plenty is a gorgeous cookbook. I scaled this recipe in half after realizing that my small celeriac was half the size of the one the recipe called for (thank you for using weights and the scale!). The original also calls for hazelnut oil and red wine vinegar. I didn't feel like investing in hazelnut oil and assumed I had red wine vinegar (nope, only white wine and rice wine), so I stuck with a good quality olive oil and balsamic. If you have hazelnut, add 1.5 tbsp of it to the dish. I'm sure it would be better with hazelnut oil and red wine vinegar, but it's delicious even without it. The scaled down version is below and serves two.

Celeriac and Lentils with Hazelnut and Mint (adapted from Ottolenghi's Plenty)

30g whole hazelnuts (with skin on)
100g French green lentils
1 1/2 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 thyme sprigs
1 small celeriac (325g), peeled and cut into chips
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar (or balsalmic)
2 tbsp chopped mint
salt and black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 275F. Scatter hazelnuts on a small baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Let them cool, then roughly chop.
2. Combine lentils, water, bay leaf, and thyme in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes or until al dente. Drain.
3. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, cook the celeriac in boiling salted water for 8 - 12 minutes or until tender. Drain.
4. In a medium bowl, mix the hot lentils with olive oil, vinegar, black pepper and salt to taste.
5. Add celeriac and stir. Adjust seasoning if needed.
6. Stir in half of the mint and half the hazelnuts. Garnish with the remaining mint and hazelnuts.

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