As members of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), we get a bag of seasonal, local vegetables every Wednesday. This time of year in Virginia, that means root vegetables.
After a vacation of little exercise and a lot of excess, last night called for a healthy yet interesting meal. I had two celery roots (also known as celeraic), turnips, carrots, and lentils. I also had a small leftover piece of Virginia country ham, and the rind of some country bacon. Both of the meats came from an autumn trip to the mountains and keep forever.
I started with a large bowl of veggies. Onions, carrots, turnips, and garlic, all cut to a fine dice, not much bigger than the lentils. I did likewise with the ham and left the bacon rind intact so I could fish it out after its work was done.
I sautéed the ham and bacon in some olive oil and then added the diced veggies. Once those were softened I added the lentils a big sprig of thyme, and chicken broth to cover. This could easily have been a vegetarian dish, but there was no need for that last night and while it was just a little bit of ham, it really made a difference!
The lentils needed a half hour. Next, I peeled the celery roots and cut them into large cubes which I simmered in milk for 20 minutes.
While these two pots simmered, I made a quick sauce for drizzling. I used olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey, and some chili powder (not very hot, but a deep roasted chili flavor). I heated this up just enough to blend the honey with the rest. It was heavy on the vinegar because I knew that’s what the lentils would want.
When the celery root was tender, I put it in a food processor along with a little, although not all of the milk. I blended it into a smooth puree. I added lemon juice, white pepper, salt, and butter. It was all done to taste, so I can’t tell you the quantities, but the result was delicious! I could have sat down and eaten the whole bowl!
I started with a bed of the lentils in the center of the plate and topped that with a generous dollop of the celery root puree. I drizzled this with the honey sauce and garnished with chopped flat leaf parsley.
It was a hit! The flavors and textures worked together beautifully. The celery root puree was rich and creamy blending with the coarse texture and earthy flavor of the lentils, and all the veggies added both color and flavor. The honey drizzle was a perfect accent.
The ultimate proof was that my family enjoyed it, and though my teenage daughter was suspect of something called “celery root puree”, she got past that and approved!
I think this could be expanded to maybe host a glazed chop, or a glazed country-style rib for a rustic presentation; or, possibly something more refined, perhaps a pork tenderloin, and possibly a little bit of fruit like roasted apples, etc.