Despite the stress of change and fear of status quo, we’ve enjoyed this season. We’ve reveled in the weekly farmer’s market, gone on long walks around the city, and a certain birthday dude-to-be has taken to cooking like the public scientist/closet creative he is. There are days when the kitchen is taken over by his creations, and I feel very happy. We go out in search of rare ingredients that often only one place carries. I fight for one burner of the four, but I don’t mind; it’s a joy to bond over a passion.
Thanksgiving is approaching and my mind and energy are both elsewhere, so he’s taking the lead. His menu is far more creative than mine would be. He jokes we’ve developed healthy competition when I plate a meal that becomes an instant favorite. Perhaps we have? He also jokes that I’m trying to sabotage his efforts when I offer up substitutions or tell him to leave out a pricey ingredient. Maybe I am? ;)
I turned him on to Ottolenghi through his book Jerusalem, and he turned me on to Plenty More. These books are meant to challenge, inspire, and feed you well. While first skeptical of the possibility of these vegetarian meals to leave me satisfied, I am now a convert. Many recipes are naturally gluten- and dairy-free, and that’s the way I like it. No fussiness, no major substitutions other than butter and omission of cheese here and there, and even still, the recipes rock.
Last week, I ended up at Giordano’s on the corner of 9th and Washington, in search of the list of essential seasonal items to put together this dish. I found them all and at prices that made me wish my muscles could support my initiative. Next time. But I was successful on my quest for celery root in its gnarly glory and kabocha squash, both ingredients I’d never used before. The root does in fact smell like celery (it is it’s root, after all), and the kabocha is now my favorite squash of all. After some semi-laborious prep work, boiling, and processing, c’est fin! You have a beautiful mash that is indeed a meal in and of itself.
If I can steal back my burner, this here is my Thanksgiving dish.
Ottolenghi’s Root Mash
Ingredients: Note, measurements (in grams) are taken after peeling
80g (~1/2 cup) French lentils
300g celery root (~ 1/2 large celery root), peeled and cut into chunks
300g carrots (~ 4 large), peeled and cut into chunks
300g kabocha squash (1/3 squash), peeled and cut into chunks
600g sweet potatoes (I used white) (~2 medium), peeled and cut into chunks
~2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp ground cumin
salt and black pepper
Optional (in lieu of the beautiful shallots detailed here):
1 1eek (white part), sliced thinly
1-2 T olive oil
salt and peper
1. Prepare all vegetables and set aside.
2. Cover lentils with sufficient water, bring to a boil, and simmer until done (firm but cooked), about 20-25 minutes. Drain and set aside.
3. (Optional):Meanwhile, heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive in a frying pan over medium heat, add leeks and toss carefully in oil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 10 minutes, being careful not to burn them. Set aside.
4. Meanwhile, fill a large saucepan or dutch oven halfway with water, bring to a boil, then add the celery root and carrot. Then, after 10 minutes, add the squash and sweet potato. Cook for about 15 minutes more until all vegetables are easily pierced with a fork.
5. Drain the veg, shaking off as much liquid as possible. Mash or puree the mixture either by using a potato masher or carefully blending in a food processor.
6. Mix in the olive oil, syrup, cumin, and season to taste.
7. Fold in the cooked lentils
8. To serve, top the mash with the caramelized leeks.
[Please note: Book links are part of the Amazon Affiliates program, meaning I would get a tiny percentage of the purchase price. Though I’m not sure, that’s never happened yet. :) ]