Jim Dixon wrote about food for WW for more than 20 years, but these days most of his time is spent at his olive oil-focused specialty food business Wellspent Market. Jim’s always loved to eat, and he encourages his customers to cook by sending them recipes every week through his newsletter. We’re happy to have him back creating some special dishes just for WW readers.
A gratin transforms humble root vegetables into a savory wonder. This one combines celery root, aka celeriac, with sweet potatoes and leek and gets a subtle smokiness from pimenton, Spanish paprika smoked over an oak fire.
Celery root looks awful and requires a little work to get to the good stuff, but the results are worth the effort. Use a swivel peeler to trim off the greenish-brown skin, and if necessary, take a knife to the root end to cut off the hairy bits dark with soil. White-fleshed sweet potatoes aren’t as sweet as the orange-fleshed varieties, and they complement the celery root nicely.
Parmigiano Reggiano, the king of cheese, provides flavor and umami along with the gratin’s traditional crispy top. But bread crumbs mixed with a little olive oil work very well if you’re not eating cheese.
1 medium celeriac, about 2-3 pounds, peeled and cut into chunks
2 white-fleshed sweet potatoes, about 2-3 pounds total, peeled and cut into chunks
1 leek, cleaned, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly
1 teaspoon pimenton or similarly smoked red pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
About 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese*
*Substitute bread crumbs mixed with a tablespoon of olive oil
Steam or boil the celeriac and sweet potato together until very tender. Drain and mash coarsely.
Cook the leek in the tablespoon of oil with a pinch of salt until very tender and lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
Mix the vegetables, half of the grated cheese, the pimenton, salt and olive oil. Spread into a baking dish or skillet and top with the remaining cheese (or all of the bread crumbs). Bake at 350 degrees until nicely browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes.