So, I stole from a supermarket.
Well, technically, they brought the unpaid for goods into my house, and I was a little slow to realise that I hadn’t actually ordered them.
I then justified it to myself by thinking of all the things I had ordered that they hadn’t delivered – which a refund goes only a small way to making up for – and also, were they really going to miss two stumps of celeriac?
Yeah, that’s right, of all the things to have mysteriously end up in your fridge at no cost, life chose to hand me 1.7kg of celeriac root. So, in the hope of redeeming myself in the eyes of whoever cares (some higher power? the supermarket? my readers? myself?!), I set about trying to make something different and delicious with one of the most neglected vegetables of the roots aisle.
Celeriac has been in my life for years, as the French love to julienne it and smother it in mayonnaise to make céleri rémoulade which you normally find in butcher shops (which often serve as delis) alongside grated carrot salad and taboulé. Anyway, as the food I ate during summer holidays at my grandparents’ holiday home, celeriac has never struck me as particularly exciting.
Now, winter root veggies aren’t particularly known for their outstanding nutritional content, but turns out celeriac brings nutritional gifts more comparable with sweet potato or carrot (of whom it is a relative) than the oft vilified white potato. Besides a low calorie count (42kcal per 100g), you can expect a big whack of vitamin K, along with some interesting minerals like phosphorus and copper and manganese (iron and calcium too), and more surprisingly, an array of antioxidants. And heaps of fibre, of course.
What I like about celeriac is that it’s just not afraid to taste of something. Carrots and spinach can easily hide behind other flavours, but celeriac stands up for what it is. A more earthy, more hearty, almost slightly nutty and definitely less stringy celery – though I guess it must really hate being compared to celery.
So I decided to pair it with equally woodsy, earthy, autumnal flavours. I wanted to stay away from grains, because there’s just something about grains that doesn’t quite fit in veggie patty ethos for me – they normally add too much bite, when you just want juicy softness to ooze out from between two halves of a fluffy, lightly crusty bun. Plus, lots of people can’t or won’t eat grains, and although I don’t like to forbid myself or anyone a particular food, I do generally feel better off fewer grain-based meals.
Toasted walnuts were a must. The epitome of earthy and autumnal, they are also ridiculously healthy with their vast amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, manganese, copper, vitamin E, and rainbow of antioxidants.
Mushrooms add moistness and earthiness for few additional calories, but more importantly they bring fibre and selenium as well as some additional antioxidants, and a less negligible amount of protein than most vegetables.
Butter beans or lima beans add starchy texture, not to mention protein and ridiculous amounts of fibre. Although everything pale and white seems to be vilified in the nutrition world, butter beans also come bearing significant amounts of copper, manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, potassium, and vitamins B1 and B6.
I added sundried tomatoes for a pop of red and the occasional juicy salty burst, but they also have the benefit of adding lycopene and vitamin C. Nutritional yeast gives us some more B vitamins and some protein, as well as deliciousness and a helping hand with holding the patties together.
The good news is that, unlike almost everything else in life, these actually taste better baked, not fried! So if you’re more worried about frying your food in oil than I am, you don’t need to choose between delicious and healthy. Also unlike most things in life, this reality isn’t too good to be true.
- 1/2 red onion, finely diced
- 4 cups peeled and diced celeriac
- 1tbsp + 1tsp coconut oil, divided
- 1 cup vegetable broth – I used a homemade mix from Zsu Dever‘s upcoming cookbook
- 1 cup toasted walnuts
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms – I used white cup mushrooms but feel free to use something with even more flavour!
- 1 x 400g tin butter beans / just over 1 cup drained
- 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp tamari soy sauce – make sure to use gluten-free if necessary!
The procedure is surprisingly easy – I never like my washing up to get too far out of control, so trust me on this:
- Heat 1tbsp oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until just starting to go translucent. Add the celeriac and sauté until lightly browned. Add the broth, cover, and leave to simmer until the liquid has been absorbed and the celeriac is tender – about 30mins. Remove from heat.
- While the celeriac is simmering, cook the rest of the mixture. Heat the remaining 1tsp oil in a medium frying pan over a high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until lightly browned and softened. Lower the heat to medium and add the walnuts, butter beans, sundried tomatoes, and smoked paprika. Leave to cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the butter beans are tender. Remove from heat.
- Preheat oven to 175°C or 350°F. Line a baking try with a silicone baking mat or baking paper.
- Transfer celeriac to a food processor and purée until smooth. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Add the mushroom-bean mixture to the food processor and process until finely chopped – it doesn’t need to be too even as long as most of it is starting to come together. Transfer to the mixing bowl with the celeriac, add the nutritional yeast and tamari, and mix well until all combined.
- Scoop out a 1/2 cup of the mixture and use your hand to form a thick patty and place it on the baking tray. The mixture is quite wet and sticky so minimal contact is ideal – I scooped the mixture into my left hand, transferred it to my right hand, and straight onto the baking tray. Repeat with the remaining mixture.
- Bake for about 20 minutes or until the outside edges are dry and lightly crispy.
- Serve in a toasted bun with your preferred fixings (a homemade sundried tomato sauce and some mustard would be great I’ll bet!), or naked with a side salad or wilted greens. I had mine sitting on top of a small pile of kale sautéed with garlic and apple cider vinegar!
I got about 10 decent-sized patties out of this (I experimented with some small falafel-sized balls too, which were tasty, but I think the patties were better), which means each one sits at around 170kcal, 8g fat, 17g carbohydrates of which a huge 6.5g fibre, and just under 9g of protein. Not to mention all the other goodies we talked about; iron, manganese, copper, B vitamins, omega-3 oils and other healthy fats… Since this recipe is vegan, free of refined and processed foods (if nutritional yeast is a problem, that can easily be omitted), and full of goodness, I am submitting it to Ricki Heller’s Wellness Weekend – I have been following Ricki’s blog for years when she blogged under the name “Diet, Dessert ‘N’ Dogs”, and I’m excited to be able to take part in her weekly celebration of health and food!
Variations include using a tablespoon to shape smaller balls out of the mixture, which you could stuff a pita with à la falafel or just toss into a salad, using a combination of root veggies for the base instead of just celeriac, using different beans or nuts, and adding garlic to the sautéing mushrooms (which I would have done if I had had any at home). Let me know if you think of any more!
Happy wellness weekend, all!