IMG_CeleryRootSo often we may have a great idea for a dinner entree, but what on earth should we serve with it???  If we could just come up with a side dish that is as outstanding as the main dish!  It needs to complement, yet have just the right level of integrity to stand up to the item it is sharing a plate with.  There’s also that whole time issue.  Do you really want to spend hours, slaving over a bunch of different dishes?

This is a fun concept I have played with at a couple of my restaurants.  It uses healthy root vegetables and has a similarity to risotto in preparation and texture.  You can use yam, sweet potato, carrot, parsnip, turnips and/or celeriac (celery root).  Do keep in mind, to use numerous items from the list you are going to end up with a sizable batch!  So, invite friends over!  Invite them early and they can help cut up the vegetables, too!

The dish in the picture is featuring celeriac.  I made it to go with wine braised chicken and mushrooms.  It is free of gluten, soy, corn, egg, nut, and is dairy free if made without the butter.  Using vegetable stock, makes it vegan as well.

Fall Celeriac ‘Risotto’

1 medium yellow onion, minced

1 smallish carrot, peeled and minced

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 whole celeriac, peeled and minced

2-3 fresh sage leaf, chiffonade

chicken or vegetable stock

butter, optional

Using a small amount of olive oil, saute the onion and carrot until softened.  Add the garlic and cook until is begins to soften as well.  Add the celeriac, sage and salt and pepper to taste.  In the style of risotto, add a little stock at a time, cooking over medium heat, until your vegetables are nearly done.  Taste for salt levels, adjust if needed.  To finish, add the butter and allow to simmer for a bit to absorb the last little bit of liquid.  If you accidentally put in too much liquid, drain it off and finish as above.

I kept seasoning in this dish fairly simple.  I wanted the flavor of the vegetables to be the primary with the herbs and spice of the chicken I served with  it, carrying the responsibility.  Root vegetable risottos are a clean slate to play with different spice combinations.  If you are unsure what to use, my favorite culinary book is The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg.  It’s basically a chemistry book for chefs.  It has concise lists of suggested additions to complement your other ingredients in a dish.  This book is a great tool in any creative kitchen!

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