Nigel Slater’s recipes for unusual winter vegetables | Food (2024)

Nigel Slater recipes

Celeriac, salsify, kohlrabi... These strange and knobbly vegetables, at their peak in winter and spring, take a little effort to prepare but the results are well worth it

Nigel Slater

Sun 3 Mar 2019 05.59 GMT

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share via Email

We kept the parsnips over winter in a sack of sand in the outhouse, my dad sending me down to get the long, pale roots on a Sunday morning, so they could be peeled and roasted around the beef. I protested, even though they made a silky mash and a fine soup. We knew nothing of the other pale and interesting winter vegetables – salsify or Jerusalem artichokes, celeriac or kohlrabi – and had no any idea you could eat beetroot without pickling it first.

It is odd, sad even, that we have settled for carrots and parsnips when there are so many other root vegetables worth our time. I guess we went for the easy-peel varieties. Salsify, long and elegant, is back in the shops after years in the wilderness. It’s a messy vegetable to deal with, possessing a fine, mineral flavour, that – unlike most of its kind – carries something of an affinity for shellfish. I use it with scallops and cod cheeks. The roots are the devil to wash, and covered in fine, black soil that will get everywhere. They need washing and peeling, though not necessarily in that order. Salsify can be cut into stubby pieces the length of a wine cork, and fried. Butter is its friend, but steam the pieces first then toss them in it, like new potatoes. Better still, after steaming, roll each lump in beaten egg and fresh breadcrumbs, perhaps with a little grated parmesan and chopped parsley. Then fry till crisp.

Celeriac is finally having something of a moment. Once you have sliced off its tangle of roots and peeled it, you are left with snow-white flesh that tastes mildly of celery. It can be ushered into a soup with bacon and parsley. You can heroically clear all the stragglers from your veg box in one go by grating it into a crunchy salad with beetroot and kohlrabi. It needs a damn good dressing though. I toss it with a paste of black garlic then marry it with soured cream and crisp, hot pancetta.

Scallops, salsify and pickled cucumbers

A word of advice: it is much easier to peel salsify before you wash it.
Serves 2

small cucumber 1
white vermouth 2 tbsp
white wine vinegar 3 tbsp
tarragon 4 sprigs
lemon 1
salsify 400g
parsley 6 sprigs
olive oil 3 tbsp
butter 30g
scallops 8

Peel the cucumber, cut in half and then in small dice no bigger than a centimetre. Put the cucumber in a small mixing bowl with the white vermouth, the wine vinegar and half a teaspoon of sea salt. Pull the tarragon leaves from their stems and stir into the cucumber then set aside for an hour. Longer will not hurt.

Fill a saucepan with cold water then squeeze the lemon into it, adding in the empty lemon shells for good measure. (The more acid the water, the less chance of your salsify discolouring.) Peel and wash the salsify, then cut each root into pieces the length of a wine cork and drop into the cold water.

Bring the pan to the boil, then lower the heat, salt lightly, cook the salsify for about 15 minutes, until tender, then drain.

Roughly chop the parsley, then stir half of it into the cucumber pickle.

Warm the olive oil in a shallow pan over a moderate heat then add the drained salsify and cook for a few minutes till lightly and evenly coloured on all sides. As soon as the salsify is golden, add the butter to the pan and let it melt, then, just as it starts to sizzle, pat the scallops dry with kitchen paper and lower them carefully into the pan. They may spit at you. Let the scallops cook for a minute or 2, then turn and cook the other side. As soon as the scallops are ready, lift them and the salsify on to plates. Spoon the cucumber pickle over them and serve.

The Guardian aims to publish recipes for sustainable fish. For ratings in your region, check: UK; Australia; US.

Winter roots with pancetta and black garlic

Black garlic is sold in major supermarkets and some greengrocers.
Serves 4

lemon ½
celeriac 300g (peeled weight)
kohlrabi 200g
beetroot 500g
pancetta 200g
olive oil 3 tbsp

For the garlic dressing:
black garlic 2 cloves
egg yolks 2
groundnut oil 150ml
soured cream 2 heaped tbsp

Squeeze the lemon into a deep bowl of cold water and set aside. Push the celeriac through a spiraliser, then put into the bowl of acidulated water to keep it crisp and white. Do the same with the kohlrabi – or slice or shave it very thinly – then mix with the celeriac. Wash the beetroot, then spiralise and add to the other veg.

For the dressing, crush the black garlic to a paste using a pestle and mortar, then pound in the egg yolks and a little salt. Add the oil, a few drips at first, mixing all the while, then, as it thickens, in a steady stream until you have a thick, mayonnaise-like cream. Stir in the soured cream and set aside.

Cut the pancetta into lardons about 2cm thick. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan then add the pancetta and let it cook over a moderately high heat till the fat is golden and the meat lightly crisp. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.

Drain the vegetables and shake them dry, then put them in a serving bowl. Spoon in the dressing and add the pancetta and a little black pepper, then toss, coating the celeriac, kohlrabi and beetroot with the dressing.

Email Nigel at or follow him on Twitter@NigelSlater


  • Food
  • Nigel Slater recipes
  • Vegetables
  • Seafood
  • recipes
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share via Email
  • Share on LinkedIn
  • Share on WhatsApp
  • Share on Messenger

View on

Nigel Slater’s recipes for unusual winter vegetables | Food (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Saturnina Altenwerth DVM

Last Updated:

Views: 5733

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (44 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Saturnina Altenwerth DVM

Birthday: 1992-08-21

Address: Apt. 237 662 Haag Mills, East Verenaport, MO 57071-5493

Phone: +331850833384

Job: District Real-Estate Architect

Hobby: Skateboarding, Taxidermy, Air sports, Painting, Knife making, Letterboxing, Inline skating

Introduction: My name is Saturnina Altenwerth DVM, I am a witty, perfect, combative, beautiful, determined, fancy, determined person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.