I wasn’t sure about this recipe on paper, but I put my faith in Yotam Ottolenghi’s genius. And I’m glad I did because it is da bomb. I first cooked it as a starter for a dinner party and it went down a treat. Celeriac puree and quail’s eggs are used in the original recipe, taken from Ottolenghi’s NOPI cookbook, but I couldn’t find celeriac anywhere and I already had hen eggs in my cupboard.
The puree has a hummus-like texture flavoured with spices, tahini and citrus. So tasty you could just eat on its own with a spoon. For the complete dish, the puree is topped with a mixture of raw (yes raw) finely chopped cauliflower, basil, onions, toasted almonds and lemon skins. Finished off with a runny egg (I prefer poached) and a sprinkling of paprika.
I might be doing something wrong, but I always find I have too much of the cauliflower mixture leftover. However, as I have since discovered it makes a delicious soup (see bottom of page), so it will feed you for days!
Take a chance on it and you won’t be sorry.
Recipe – serves 4 starters or 2 main courses
- 60ml olive oil, plus 1 tbsp to serve
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 3/4 turnips (600g) or 1 large celeriac, peeled and cut into 2cm pieces
- 500ml vegetable stock
- 2 tbsps tahini paste
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- salt and pepper
For the spiced cauliflower/eggs
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tsp ground mixed spice or ras el hanout
- 100ml water
- 1 medium cauliflower, trimmed and roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp finely diced lemon skin
- 90g almonds, skin on
- 50g parsley, roughly chopped
- 1 x hens egg per person
How to cook
Turn the oven to 200C heat and leave to come to temperature. In this time you can chop and prepare all of the veg.
First make the celeriac puree. It can be made in advance and covered with cling film in the fridge until ready to serve. Place the olive oil in a medium saucepan on a medium-high heat and fry the onions, while stirring, until soft and starting to caramelise. Add the garlic and bay leaves, stirring for another minute until adding the chopped turnips. Fry for a further 8-10 minutes.
At this point you can toast the almonds – simply place them spread out on a baking tray and pop in the oven. Keep an eye on them as they should take about 10 minutes if the oven is at temperature. You can also use this time to pull together the vegetable stock.
Add the stock to the saucepan and simmer on a medium heat for 15 minutes until the turnip is cooked through. Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaves and blitz in a food processor until smooth. Next add the tahini, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, 1.5 tsps salt and a grind of black pepper. Set aside. Oh and remember to take the almonds out of the oven to cool – but leave the oven switched on.
Next for the spiced cauliflower mixture. Put the oil into a large frying pan or saute pan and place on a medium heat. Add the onion and saute for five minutes until soft. You can use this time to finely chop the almonds. Then add the garlic and cook for a further two minutes, then add the ground mixed spice. Pour the water into the pan and stir through before removing from the heat. Next fold in the cauliflower, lemon skin, almonds and half of the parsley. Add a teaspoon of salt.
Get ready to serve. Divide the turnip puree onto your serving plates in equal portions, drizzle half a teaspoon of olive oil on each on and then sprinkle a good handful of the cauliflower mixture on top. Place the plates in the oven (the dish can be enjoyed cold, but I prefer it heated up) to heat through while you poach the eggs.
Once poached, add one egg on top of each portion and sprinkle the leftover basil. And there it is!
N.B. As mentioned above, you may have some leftover cauliflower mix (incl. cauliflower, almonds, lemon skin, onions, garlic and basil). To make this into a delicious soup, simply chop up one leek and one stick of celery, and add to the mixture. Fry the mixture in a saucepan for about five minutes on a medium heat. Next add 500ml of vegetable stock and simmer on a medium heat for a further five-10 minutes until the mixture reduces by a third. Take off the heat and use a hand blender to make it smooth. Finally add 200-300ml of cream and season to taste. Freeze portions to eat throughout the week.