This is my take on scalloped potatoes when the garden or the market has primo celeriac ready and willing. The recipe also showcases my opinion that robust root vegetables like celeriac, rutabaga and beets are made to marry with the wonderful walnut. So make the most of late autumn harvest and with a few simple ingredients and a bit of time – decadent side dish supreme. Again, that is a personal value judgement rather than objective assessment !
Yield : 2 – 4 servings (how hungry are you and how many other dishes are you serving?); and extra sauce to drizzle over roasted vegetables later in the week
What you need :
- 1 medium celeriac (about 3 cups sliced)
- 3/4 cup raw walnuts halves and/or pieces
- 3/4 cup water + more to soak the nuts
- 2 tablespoons coconut aminos (or tamari/shoyu if you aren’t paleo, but keep in mind that if you use tamari or shoyu, you’ll probably want to reduce the salt somewhat)
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
- a generous 1/4 teaspoon salt (or more, to personally desired level – you will be using the sauce to salt the veggie)
What you do :
- Soak the raw walnuts in plenty of fresh filtered water (about 3 cups) and let them sit for 4-6 hours or overnight. Rinse and drain.
- Preheat the oven to 375F and get a 3 to 4 cup casserole dish at ready.
- Blend together all the ingredients except for the celeriac to make a smooth sauce. It will be about the consistency of a light cream, that’s what you want. It should taste a bit saltier than what you want the finished dish. Set aside.
- Scrub the celeriac well. Cut off the gnarly knobby bits saving as much of the flesh as you can. Peel. Use either a food processor with the slicing blade or a mandolin to slice the root as thinly as possible. The thinner the slices the more impressive the presentation on the plate (and the more evenly and relatively quickly it cooks…)
- Now the fun starts! Spoon some of the creamy walnut sauce into the bottom of the casserole dish. Layer some celeriac on top. Spoon more sauce to cover the slices. Now more slices. More sauce. More slices. More sauce. More slices. I think you get the idea by now. Keep saucing and adding slices until all the slices are used up. Top with a bit more sauce. Depending on how big your celeriac is, you’ll have more or less sauce left and a thicker or thinner casserole. One way or another, it’s all good.
- Save the rest of the sauce in an airtight container in the fridge to drizzle on vegetables later in the week. It should keep 3 or 4 days.
- Press down lightly on the casserole to compact the layers a bit and make sure everything is nicely covered in luscious sauce.
- Bake, covered tightly, for 45 minutes or so, or until a knife slides in without (much) resistance (I like a little tooth – your mileage may vary).
- Uncover and roast 15 more minutes, until the top is a couple of shades darker than the interior and a bit crusty.
- Remove from the oven and let sit 5 or 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Switch it up by using another nut or seed to make the cream. Keep in mind you may have to adjust the water level – start with a bit less and work up to the desired consistency.
- Don’t like tarragon? Use another herb or spice that does tickle your fancy.
- Celeriac can be swapped out for almost any root or tuber: rutabaga, sunchoke, beet, parsnip, carrot, potato and sweet potato will all work. That said, cooking time won’t be identical so you will have to check the casserole some to see when the vegetable layers are done to your liking. Can’t decide which to use? You can also combine them creatively!
- If you digest onions and garlic well, feel free to add them to the casserole in an amount that suits you.