Sunday, December 6, 2009
Accidental Celeriac - How Soup Became Salad
The other day I set out to make a celeriac puree soup. Nothing mind-blowing or inventive, just the standard accompaniments of potatoes and leeks, some cream and good stock. Jason and I had found some nice celeriac at the only real year-round farmers market in Chicago, Green City, and having never worked with this nobbly root before, I thought I'd play it safe for once. It was not to be, however...
Lots of the coolest inventions have come from mistakes: The microwave, penicillin... even the cornflake came about when Dr. Kellogg let a pot of boiled wheat for hospital patients overcook. Now, I'm not trying to say I invented something to approach any of these inventions, and I am even pretty sure plenty of other people have discovered this, but for me, it's a novel and new idea... so I'm really just asking that everyone humor me for a little while.
What happened was, I decided to pan saute the root pieces a little before adding to the stock and let one batch go a little too long, and with a little too much olive oil. This left me with pan fried celeriac. Hmmm... no good for soup, I shrugged and slid the rejects to a "Mathea Eats Mistakes" pile. As I reached over to sample my pile, I realized the golden little pieces looked an awful lot yummy potato wedges. A sprinkling of sea salt and a nibble confirmed these were not rejects at all: they were crisp on the outside, with a tender, almost artichoke heart quality on the inside with that same twinge of sweetness. Then there was the bright green of the celery to remind you that this was no potato, oh no... There would be no soup tonight.
Plated with some greens, small heirloom or grape tomatoes (they don't have to be fancy-pants), bacon and a Dijon vinaigrette these were super. I was happy about my little discovery - enough that I didn't even care that I didn't get to eat my Mistakes pile all by myself...
Recipe: Accidental Sauteed Celeriac Salad
For the vinaigrette...
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill (or 1/2 tablespoon dried)
1 large celeriac bulb (celery root)
3 cups mesclun lettuce mix
3 strips bacon - diced and cooked
1 cup whole small tomatoes (such as grape)
2 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt & cracked pepper to taste
What to do with it all...
Start with your vinaigrette by adding shallots to vinegar and lemon juice, allowing them to "pickle" for at least 5 minutes - 15 being ideal
In small bowl, slowly stir olive oil into mustard in a small bowl with a wooden spoon
Add dill and shallot/vinegar/lemon juice mixture to olive oil/mustard and stir - set aside
Prepare celery root like you would cut a pineapple - cutting off top and bottom, cutting away outer skin and inner, spongy core
Slice remaining pieces into thin wedges
Coat a medium saute pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat on medium
Add your wedges in a single layer, fry on one side, then other until golden
Remove and transfer to paper towel to drain excess oil - salt and pepper wedges to taste
Repeat until all wedges are cooked
For one large salad: toss your greens and tomatoes with vinaigrette, adding salt and pepper to taste
Top with celeriac wedges and bacon
For individual salads: toss your greens and tomatoes with vinaigrette and salt and pepper, reserving a tablespoon for plating
Divide greens and tomatoes to plates, top with celeriac and bacon
Spoon reserved vinaigrette over celeriac