December is here, root vegetables reign, and the pomegranate is back until end of January. Fast, after work suppers are hard to manage without relying on fast food or processed produce. Keep a few staples in the kitchen to back you up for when you feel like a healthy supper that doesn’t taste like a trip down diet lane. Dried algae are an affordable way of nutritionally boosting your dishes. Seaweeds are an excellent source of minerals in general and are easily added to soups, vegetables and stews.

IMG_3076
Plus seaweed helps render pulses and beans more digestible. Just add a little to them as they are cooking.

An all-in-one bowl of smoky goodness – this veggie bowl is simple, filling and fast. One of my pantry staples has become a Mexican chipotle powder from the London Borough market that’s pretty fiery but a great way of livening up a lentil stew without adding fatty bacon or pancetta à la version française.

Extremely low in fat and high in fibre yet behaves like a potato, the celery root (celeriac) has a lot going for it nutritionally with a strong taste that is great for soups, purées or for making healthy chips.  Looking like a cross between a radish, a turnip and a potato, it’s a bit of an ugly duckling root vegetable that can stand up to cooking holding it’s shape and flavour well.

In this bowl the chipotle is nicely absorbed by the celeriac and the eventual sprinkling of feta at the end combats the strong flavours and adds a touch of cool creaminess.

Kombu, edible Japanese seaweed, is extensively used in and it can be traced back to the year 797. One of its benefits is to render pulses and beans more digestible. Often it is cultivated locally too, the kombu I use is from western France.

The feta is a nice creamy salty cooling factor that is best added at the last moment.

IMG_3084

Ingredients

1 cup yellow lentils

1 cup chopped fresh celeriac

1 diced shallot

1 organic stock cube (optional)

Scant ½ teaspoon of chipotle powder

3 cups water

1 or 2 strands of kombu seaweed (optional)

1 teaspoon nut oil

2 tablespoons crumbled feta

Making

Peel and chop the celery root/celeriac. Heat the nut oil and lightly sauté the shallot before adding the lentils and the celeriac to the hot pan.

Add the chipotle powder and ensure the lentils and celeriac are well coated in the oil and the smoky powder.  If using, add the stock cube here, crumbling it slightly. The flavours will infuse here in the heat.

Then add the water, add the kombu, bringing everything to the boil, stirring well.  Then reduce the heat and simmer for about 35-40 minutes.

Serve with the feta crumbled on top.