This is celeriac.
An amazingly gnarled little beastie that happens to have a deliciously smooth, nutty flavor. I bought the above specimen last week with no clear idea of what I was going to do with it. On Sunday morning, I was flipping through Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty (apparently I've become the sort of person who reads cookbooks for fun) and spotted his recipe for celeriac and lentils. I already had all the ingredients and just like that, I had a plan for lunch.
We ate this along with a small salad for lunch and then went hiking out by China Camp. It was at once wholesome and flavorful (the mellowness of the celeriac! the crunch from the hazelnuts! the brightness of the mint!) and I will certainly be making it again, and soon.
slightly adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi's celeriac and lentils with hazelnut and mint
1/3 cup whole hazelnuts
1 cup lentils du Puy
3 cups water
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs of thyme
1 celeriac peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
4 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp hazelnut oil
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
salt and black pepper
4 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
Preheat oven to 275. Scatter the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 15 minutes. Let them cool and chop roughly (or leave whole, as I did).
Combine the lentils, water, bay leaves and thyme in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 18-20 minutes, or until al dente. Drain.
In another sauce pan, cook the celeriac in lots of boiling salted water for 10 minutes, or until just tender. Drain.
In a large bowl, mix the hot lentils with the olive oil, 2 tbsp of hazelnut oil, vinegar, salt and black pepper. Add celeriac and stir well. Stir in half of the mint and half of the hazelnuts. Pile onto a bowl and drizzle the remaining hazelnut oil on top. Garnish with remaining mint and hazelnuts.