Baking vegetables in a salt crust lifts the humble celeriac to another level. The flavour permeates through the vegetable, without it tasting over-salty.
Salt-Baked Celeriac with Blue Cheese & Honey-Glazed Treviso
For the salt crust
225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
400g fine sea salt
a big handful of fresh thyme leaves
a handful of freshly chopped rosemary
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
For the filling
900g whole celeriac
4 treviso chicory, halved from root to tip
5 tbsp olive oil
200g Gorgonzola cheese (or other punchy blue cheese), broken into small pieces
a handful of very young fresh sage leaves (older leaves will be too bitter)
3 tbsp thick honey
zest and juice of 1 medium orange
freshly ground black pepper
2-3 ratafia biscuits or crisp amaretti biscuits, to serve
Preheat the oven to 190?C/gas mark 5. Mix the flour and salt together for the salt crust. Stir in the thyme and rosemary. Stir in the egg whites and enough water to bring the mixture together into a smooth, pliable dough. Scatter some flour over a piece of baking parchment and roll the dough out until large enough to cover the entire celeriac. Sit the celeriac in the centre of the dough and bring the edges of the parchment up around the sides and push the dough firmly against the skin. Make a small hole in the crust and transfer it to a lightly-floured sheet pan.
Bake for about 1 hour 20 minutes, until the skewer slips easily into the centre of the celeriac.
Remove the celeriac from the pan, set aside and wipe the pan. Lay the chicory on the pan, cut sides up. Drizzle them with 2 tbsp of the olive oil and cook for about 20 minutes, until they are soft and golden. Remove the sheet pan from the oven and move the chicory to one side of the pan. Cut the salt crust in half and remove the celeriac. Peel off the rough skin and cut the flesh into slices. Use three slices to form eight circle-shaped piles on the pan.
Divide the Gorgonzola pieces between the piles, scatter over the sage leaves and season with some freshly ground black pepper. Return to the oven for 5-10 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Whisk the remaining olive oil with the honey and orange zest and juice. Remove the sheet pan from the oven, drizzle the orange dressing over the chicory, crumble the ratafia or amaretti biscuits over the celeriac, and serve.
Extracted from Vegetarian Sheet Pan Cooking by Liz Franklin (Ryland Peters & Small, approx €17). Photograph by Steve Painter.