Something wondrous happens to celeriac when it's shoved in the oven for a luxurious cook covered in nothing but a splash of olive oil and a heft of salt. It softens gloriously, while still holding shape and takes on a meaty flavour profile. I genuinely think it is one of the most wonderful vegetables out there. Given its richness, I gave it a lighter winter spin here with a pear salad base and a super-quick blitzed gremolata topping.
2 small celeriacs (about 400g each), scrubbed thoroughly and trimmed of their whiskers
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sea salt flakes
1 tbsp dill sprigs
1 tbsp coriander leaves
3 firm Packham pears (or Corella pears), cored and sliced into matchsticks
1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tbsp dill fronds
3 tbsp pepitas
Quick herb gremolata
2 tsp capers
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
leaves from 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
½ bunch dill fronds, roughly chopped
½ tsp brown sugar
1 tsp freshly grated horseradish*
1. Preheat oven to 170C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Place the celeriac on top and drizzle over the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place in the oven and roast for 3 hours (you may need to turn the tray partway through cooking if your oven has particularly pesky hot spots).
2. Just before the cooking time is up, toss the pear salad ingredients in a bowl.
3. Add the herb gremolata ingredients to a blender and give it a quick blitz to combine – you want this to be nice and chunky and not overworked.
4. Add about 1-2 tablespoons of the gremolata to the pear salad then toss to combine. Spoon into serving bowls.
5. Remove the celeriac from the oven and using a serrated knife, gently cut into 2.5cm-thick steaks. If you like, you can fry the steaks in a teaspoon of olive oil for about 30 seconds on each side if you want them to take on some colour, but this is entirely optional. Place the steaks on the pear salad then top with a spoonful of the gremolata, or to taste, then season and serve.
*If you can't find fresh horseradish don't panic, the supermarket stuff will do just fine at a pinch, you just want the background fresh heat flavour. I don't bother with blanching and refreshing the herbs for this gremolata, just a quick blitz but keeping plenty of texture is the way to go.
If you like this recipe, try Jill Dupleix's harissa and honey cauliflower steaks with green hummus