Nigel Slater’s recipes for baked celeriac, and marmalade tart (2024)

The box of celeriac had six clean, putty-coloured roots in it, each one with a dash of mauve and a fizz of green shoots. If ever this knobbly, hairy root could be thought of as tempting, this was it. Celeriac is something a cook tends to find themselves having to use rather choosing to buy. These, however, were beautiful and I took three of them home: one to bake, one to grate and another for luck.

There is often much scrubbing and trimming even before we pick up the peeler. This time, I cut off the rooty base, wrapped it up in a shiny parcel with oil, salt and thyme and baked it slowly for a couple of hours. The hard-as-nails flesh relented, mellowed and darkened to the colour of honey. The sauce that accompanied it was warm and spicy, sweet with coconut milk and earthy with garam masala and turmeric. One of the world’s least-attractive vegetables was suddenly looking rather good.

The second root was grated – coarsely, as if for a classic remoulade – then stirred into a thick dressing of yoghurt and tahini, its surface freckled with toasted sesame seeds. The third is still in the fridge, waiting to be sliced and layered with onions and vegetable stock.

This, at least to me, is marmalade weather – the point in the year when a spoonful of wobbling citrus jelly is particularly cheering. On toast, of course, but in steamed sponges and cakes, too. Marmalade makes a surprisingly good glaze for a ginger cake and I like a pencil-thin line in a sacher-style chocolate cake, too. I used a couple of jars in a tart this week, with sweet and crumbly pastry and a thick layer of bitter-sweet orange marmalade. A slice of glowing citrus joy on a grey February day.

Baked celeriac, coconut sauce

I would be tempted to eat this earthy dish with steamed rice, perhaps with coriander leaves and a little lemon zest forked through the grains.

Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side

celeriac 2 large, weighing about 1 kg each
groundnut, vegetable or olive oil 3 tbsp
thyme 6 sprigs

For the sauce:
ginger 40g, fresh
green chillies 2
garlic 2 cloves
groundnut oil 4 tbsp
yellow mustard seeds 2 tsp
garam masala 4 tsp
ground turmeric 1 tsp
coconut milk 400ml

coriander leaves a handful
mint leaves 20

Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4.

Thoroughly scrub the celeriac, trim off any untidy roots and fibres, but don’t peel it. Spread a sheet of kitchen foil, large enough in which to wrap the celeriac, over the inside of a roasting tin. Place the celeriac in the middle, pour over the oil, then season it with salt and pepper and thyme sprigs, scrunch the foil together to loosely seal the celeriac. Bake for 2 hours.

Coarsely grate the ginger. Finely chop the chillies, discarding the seeds if you wish. Peel and crush the garlic. Pour the oil into a medium-sized saucepan, place over a moderate heat and add the ginger, chillies and garlic. Let the aromatics cook for a couple of minutes, stirring regularly, then stir in the mustard seeds, garam masala and turmeric and continue cooking for 3 minutes.

Add the coconut milk and bubble for 3 minutes. Remove the celeriac from the oven, unwrap and pour the coconut sauce over. Return to the oven for a further 30 minutes. Chop the coriander and mint, then scatter them over the sauce as it comes from the oven.

Marmalade tart

Nigel Slater’s recipes for baked celeriac, and marmalade tart (1)

Waves of nostalgia here. You could use any jam for this, but bear in mind that strawberry and raspberry are likely to be too sweet for the pastry, which is deliberately sweetened to balance the citrus bitterness of the marmalade. Leave the tart to cool and the filling to fully set before attempting to cut into slices.

For the pastry:
plain flour 250g
butter 125g
caster sugar 100g
egg yolks 2
water 1-2 tbsp
egg 1, beaten for the glaze

For the filling:
ground almonds 4 tbsp
orange marmalade 500g

You will also need a 20cm tart tin with a removable base.

Put the flour into the bowl of a food processor, add the butter in large pieces and process for a few seconds to the consistency of fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and the egg yolk and process until the mixture starts to come together to form a dough. Pour in enough water – probably 1 or 2 tbsp – to produce a smooth, firm dough. You can also do this by hand, rubbing the butter into the flour with your fingertips, then stirring in the sugar and eggs and a little water and bringing the dough into a ball by hand.

Wrap the pastry in kitchen parchment and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Set the oven at 190C/gas mark 5. Slice off one-third of the dough and set aside. On a lightly floured board, roll out the larger piece of pastry and use it to line the tart tin. Push the dough well into the corners and trim the edges. Scatter the ground almonds over the base of the tart, then spoon in the marmalade and gently smooth the surface.

Roll out the reserved pastry into a disc roughly the size of the tart, then cut into 2cm wide strips. Brush lightly with a little beaten egg, then place the strips one at a time on to the surface of the tart in a lattice pattern. Bake for 30 minutes until the pastry is pale biscuit-coloured and the marmalade is bubbling. Let the tart cool before easing from the tin and slicing.

Follow Nigel on Twitter @NigelSlater

Nigel Slater’s recipes for baked celeriac, and marmalade tart (2024)

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