Celeriac is an acquired taste. When I was younger, I was fed so much parsnip, swede and celeriac that they felt like an assault on my underdeveloped tastebuds. But pair this humble root with potato in a silky soup or olive-rich mash, and its celery flavour is calmed and softened; eat it raw in a classic remoulade, and its crunchy, light celery-ness is enhanced. Here, I roast it for ease (cutting those raw batons can be a faff) before tossing it in a remoulade-like dressing; the pairing with lots of crunchy, sweet, peppery ingredients allows the celeriac’s mellow sweetness to sing.
Roast celeriac and chicory salad with lentils, apple and a creamy mustard dressing
Earthy, sharp, sweet and peppery: an autumnal salad packed with gratifying textures and vibrant acidity.
Prep 20 min
Cook 50 min
650g celeriac, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp thyme leaves or rosemary leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper
200g puy or other green lentils
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 small heads red or yellow chicory, roughly sliced, or 1 head frisee
80g watercress, roughly chopped
2 small crunchy apples (such as pink lady), quartered, cored and sliced into thinnish slices
For the mustard dressing
1 small shallot, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1½ tsp maple syrup, or honey if you don’t need it to be vegan
5 tbsp cider vinegar
8 tbsp olive oil
Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. While it’s coming up to heat, toast the nuts in the oven for five to 10 minutes, until pale golden, then tip out on to a board, roughly chop and set aside.
Toss the celeriac, two tablespoons of olive oil and the thyme/rosemary in a bowl, season generously and spread out on a baking tray. Roast for 25-30 minutes, until the celeriac is tender and dark and crisp around the edges.
Put the lentils in a pan with the garlic and pour over enough boiling water to generously cover. Add a teaspoon of salt and simmer briskly for 20-25 minutes, until tender (you want the lentils to still hold their shape). Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
Crush the garlic from the pan with the back of a spoon and mix in a small bowl or jar with the shallot, mustard, maple syrup and vinegar. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to emulsify, then season generously and toss half through the lentils while they are still warm.
Spoon the lentils on to a large plate (or four individual ones). Toss the chicory, watercress and apples in half the remaining dressing, then spread out over the lentils. Scatter over the celeriac and nuts, then spoon over the rest of the dressing and serve. This salad is delicious warm and at room temperature, so you can make the lentils in advance.
The simple flex …
Thrill meat lovers by topping the salad with wafer-thin slices of briefly sauteed Parma ham or streaky smoked bacon as a crisp, salty garnish.