Wednesday, May 18, 2011
I mentioned in my last post about Trina Hahnamann's beautiful new book The Nordic Diet, that I'd used the book to make a mother's day dinner for my mom and my Nana. I'm going to get back to the book again, but let me tell you a little something about my Nana. She's a self-proclaimed picky-eater. She had, before Mother's Day, never eaten a beet. I don't think she'd ever celery root, and she's admitted herself to only recently agreeing to give certain vegetables a chance. I think this dish was a beautiful introduction to what is essentially mashed vegetables topped with more sautéed vegetables. And, I mean, who could resist that tumble of red beet, celery, leek and walnuts? Not Nana!
All of the ingredients for this potato mash, and all of the ingredients for that delicious Roasted Chicken with Rhubarb were easy to find. There are recipes for which that wouldn't be the case in an American grocery store. Things like gooseberries, and cloudberries, both so typically Norwegian. But most recipes are certainly doable, and I wouldn't have wanted her to leave things out that depend on typically Scandinavian ingredients. That's how we learn about them, after all.
So the mash. It's basically equal parts potato and celery root (if you haven't dealt much with celery root, you can see this post for some tips) boiled with garlic, peppercorns, salt and bay leaves, and then mashed with a bit of oil. Then comes the shower of sautéed vegetables. I think when most Americans think of beets, they think of the limp, pickled kind found on mid-grade salad bars. These are not those. These are wonderful, earthy but bright, vibrant and sautéed long enough to be cooked but not so long that they're mushy.
I served it as a side to that roasted chicken, but Hahnemann (a woman after my own heart, for sure) suggests that it can even hold its own as a vegetarian meal in itself, which, had it not been for a special occasion, is probably exactly what I would have done. If you're having trouble finding celery root (also called celeric, but I think celery root more commonly in the US) I think you could just substitute a potato. But the celeric is definitely worth seeking out, and I think you'll be surprised that the ugly little root has been sitting in your produce section all this time without garnering any notice.
Mashed Potato with a Mixed Vegetable Topping
Republished (with permission) from Trina Hahnemann's The Nordic Diet from Skyhorse Publishing
14 oz celerac, peeled and cut into cubes
14 oz potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp whole peppercorns
1 tbsp sea salt flakes
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp canola oil or olive oil
mixed vegetable topping
1 tbsp canola oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
7 oz raw beet, peeled and cut into very small cubes
2 celery stalks, minced
2 leeks, minced
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
To a large pot add the celeriac, potatoes, garlic, peppercorns, salt and bay leaves. Cover generously with water, bring to a boil, and then let simmer for 30 minutes.
While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the topping: Heat the oil in a sauté pan, add the garlic and beet, and cook gently for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and the walnuts. Continue cooking for 5 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep the sauce warm.
Drain the vegetables and place in a big bowl, discarding the bay leaves. Add the canola or olive oil and mash, mixing everything well together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve the mash in a large bowl, topped with the mixed vegetables.