autumn underground vegetable bowl
There is a reason why we humans instagram the shit out of autumn, as green leaves make way for fiery bursts of orange and gold, the dense, warm air turns chilly and crisp, and we are reminded once again that we are smaller than we realize. In our universal moments of deep heartbreak and uncertainty, we seek the magnificent and the transcendental–those boundless reminders that the earth continues to rotate, that life marches on, and that we are all in this together. I have felt deeply broken recently, in ways beyond full comprehension. Yet it is the crunch of the leaves beneath my feet, the acknowledgement of the sun setting earlier everyday, and the farmers markets bursting with hearty cauliflower, roots, and squash that have humbled and grounded me. This recipe was inspired by this season change, a celebration of autumn, in vegetable form. It is delicious and fragrant and rich and cozy and oh-so-comforting. Eat it wrapped in a quilt sitting cross-legged on the couch on a lazy weekend afternoon, as you watch the golden leaves outside your window fall and blanket the earth, one by one.
For the cauliflower celeriac puree:
• heaping 1/2 cup raw hazelnuts
• 1 medium-large head cauliflower (I used a purple cauli cuz it was pretty!)
• 1 large head celeriac
• 4-5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
• 2 tbsp. ghee (or butter)
• salt and pepper to taste
For the roasted roots:
• 4-5 large carrots, rainbow or regular
• 4 medium-sized beets
• 5 slices thick-cut bacon
• 1 tbsp. maple syrup
• heaping 1 tsp. fennel seeds
• salt and pepper to taste
• chopped, roasted hazelnuts
• chopped parsley
DO AHEAD: Place the 1/2 cup hazelnuts in a large glass, and pour boiling water over them until they are fully submerged. Leave nuts to soak at room temperature for at least 5 hours or up to overnight.
When ready to make the meal, chop the cauliflower into large chunks and florets. Peel and chop the celeriac into 1-inch chunks, then add these veggies to a large pot. Add the chicken stock and enough water to cover them completely. Salt the water, then bring to a boil over a high heat. Cover the pot, reduce heat to medium-high, and continue to simmer until vegetables are fork-tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375° F. Chop the carrots and beets into irregular strips and chunks, and spread out on a large rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle the maple syrup over, then sprinkle on the fennel seeds and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Cut the bacon into 3" pieces, and lay the pieces over the vegetables, as if you are covering them in a bacon blanket.
Roast the vegetables for 15 minutes, then stir and flip with a spatula to coat the vegetables in all the rendered bacon fat. Mmm. Continue to roast 15-20 minutes more until vegetables are cooked and caramelized.
While the roots continue to roast, finish the puree. Remove the pot of vegetables from the heat, and transfer them to the bowl of a food processor (or blender) using a slotted spoon. Drain and thoroughly rinse the soaked hazelnuts, and add them to the food processor bowl, along with the ghee, a generous amount of salt and pepper, and 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Process or blend on high speed until mixture is thick and smooth, adding in more cooking water as needed to get it to the right consistency. Voila! Your puree is done.
Dollop a massive spoonful of the puree into a bowl or shallow dish, and top with the roasted roots and a piece of bacon or four. Shower the whole crazy mess with chopped hazelnuts and parsley, then dive in.