Nigel Slater’s winter root veg recipes (2024)

Deepest winter, and the knobbly roots, the glowing carrots and pink-skinned artichokes, the fat frost-sweetened parsnips and cool green kohlrabi can all have their 15 minutes. Along with the brassicas, root vegetables are the stars of cold-weather cooking, but to my mind are still too often relegated to the side of the plate. This season, they have appeared in my kitchen as a creamy sauce, a hot terrine, a crisp salad, a main course soup and a fry-up. It is high time roots came out of the dark.

Cauliflower and jerusalem artichoke bake

A surprising amount of comfort and bonhomie here. It is worth letting the artichokes cook till they are thoroughly soft, so they collapse into a velvety sauce in the blender. Long cooking renders them more digestible too. And that can only be a good thing.

Serves 4
lemon 1
jerusalem artichokes 1kg
milk 1 litre
bay leaves 3
cauliflower 1 medium, about 700g
butter 50g
olive oil 2 tbsp
fresh breadcrumbs 50g
poppy seeds 1 tbsp
tarragon leaves 2 tbsp chopped
parsley 50g, leaves and stalks, 3 tbsp leaves reserved

Finely grate the lemon and set the zest aside. Squeeze the juice into a bowl of cold water. Peel the artichokes, dropping each into the acidulated water to prevent them discolouring.

Drain the artichokes then bring them to the boil in the milk. Add the bay, a little salt and coarse black pepper. Lower the heat and simmer for about 30-40 minutes till very soft.

Cut the cauliflower into large florets, then steam them till tender to the point of a knife, or cook in deep, boiling water for 15 minutes or until approaching tenderness.

While the cauliflower cooks, warm the butter and olive oil in a shallow pan, add the breadcrumbs and cook till crisp and golden. Stir in the lemon zest, poppy seeds and chopped tarragon, then set aside.

Process the artichokes and their milk (without the bay) and the parsley leaves and stalks, reserving the 3 tbsp of leaves, until you have a smooth, green sauce. Check and correct the seasoning. Drain the cauliflower thoroughly and place in a baking dish. Spoon the artichoke sauce over the cauliflower. Scatter the surface with the reserved parsley and poppy-seed crumbs and serve.

Carrot, parsnip and freekeh chicken soup

Nigel Slater’s winter root veg recipes (1)

A deeply satisfying soup that is good as a light main dish. The pomegranate lifts and brightens the deep, smoky flavours going into the bowl.

Serves 4
olive oil 3 tbsp
chicken wings 12
smoked garlic 6 cloves
rosemary sprigs 4
bay leaves 3
thyme sprigs 12
water 2 litres
freekeh 100g
small carrots and parsnips 250g
pomegranate 1
chopped parsley a handful

Pour the oil into a deep casserole over a moderate heat and brown the chicken wings on both sides. Peel and crush then flatten the garlic cloves, then add them to the chicken together with the whole rosemary sprigs, bay, thyme and the water. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer gently for an hour.

Rinse the freekeh then tip it into the chicken stock and continue simmering for 20 minutes. Halve the carrots and parsnips and add them to the pan, then leave to cook for 20 minutes till tender. Cut the pomegranate in half and take out the seeds. Remove the sprigs of herbs from the soup, they have done their work. Ladle into bowls, then spoon the chopped parsley and pomegranate seeds on top.

Kohlrabi and grapefruit salad

Nigel Slater’s winter root veg recipes (2)

Crisp, bittersweet and refreshingly simple, a salad for a winter’s day.

Serves 4 as a side dish or first course
kohlrabi 2 small-medium
pink grapefruit 2
orange 1
fennel ½ bulb
walnut halves a handful
chicory 1 head, or other crisp, bitter salad leaf
sprouted seeds a handful

For the dressing
walnut oil 1 tbsp
olive oil 2 tbsp
lemon juice 2 tbsp
sugar a pinch

Make the dressing by combining the oils, juice and a little sugar to taste. Season with salt and pepper. Slice the kohlrabi very thinly, then mix with the dressing and set aside in the fridge for a good hour.

Peel the grapefruits and the orange, then remove any white pith. Slice the fruits thinly, then toss with the dressed kohlrabi. Very finely slice the fennel, then toss with the other vegetables and fruits. Add any tufts of fennel fronds you may have. Toast the walnuts, taking care to just warm them through – they go bitter if toasted too far.

Separate the chicory into leaves and toss them with the rest of the salad, the walnuts and the sprouted seeds. Divide between plates and serve.

Salsify and bacon

Nigel Slater’s winter root veg recipes (3)

Not the easiest root to track down, but one of my favourites. My soil is too heavy to grow them, so I snap them up whenever I see them. They discolour within seconds of peeling, and you do need to peel them, not just scrub, so have a bowl of acidulated water to hand.

Serves 2-3
lemon 1
salsify 500g
streaky bacon 200g
rosemary 3 tbsp
butter 40g
breadcrumbs 60g
finely chopped parsley 3 tbsp
goat’s cheese 250g

Squeeze the lemon into a bowl of cold water. Peel the salsify and cut each one into short, cork-length pieces, putting each into the lemon water to stop them discolouring.

Cook the salsify in a steamer, or in a colander over boiling water, for 15-20 minutes till you can easily insert the point of knife through each piece.

Finely chop the bacon and rosemary and fry them in the butter. As soon as the bacon turns crisp, add the breadcrumbs, cook till golden, then add the drained salsify and chopped parsley. Toss to coat the roots with the crumbs then serve with thick slices of goat’s cheese.

Swede and spinach loaf

Nigel Slater’s winter root veg recipes (4)

Take a little care with this, blanching the roots first then weighing them down during baking so they squish firmly together. The loaf doesn’t need to be to be turned out to serve it. But should you wish to, then be sure to let it rest, weighted, for a good 30 minutes before flipping onto a serving dish.

Serves 4 as a main course, 6 as an accompaniment
swede 1kg
turnips 500g
spinach 400g
mixed fresh herbs 60g
eggs 3
egg yolk 1
creme fraiche 400g
gruyere 150g

Line the base of the loaf tin with kitchen parchment.

Bring a large, deep pan of water to the boil. Peel the swede and turnip, then slice each thinly, about the thickness of a pound coin. Cook the slices in the boiling water for 7-8 minutes, until there is a hint of tenderness to them. Drain and set aside.

Wash the spinach thoroughly. Return the empty pan to the heat with a small amount of water in it, then add the spinach. Cover tightly with a lid and leave to cook for a couple of minutes, turning the spinach over once or twice with kitchen tongs. When the leaves are soft and bright green, drain and squeeze dry. Roughly chop the spinach and set aside.

Chop the herbs finely. Beat the eggs and egg yolk together in a mixing bowl, just enough to combine the whites and yolks, then stir in the creme fraiche and gruyere. Season generously. Heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.

To assemble, scatter a few of the chopped herbs in the base of the loaf tin. Place pieces of swede and turnip, neatly, in one layer then cover with some of the fresh herbs and a little of the creme fraiche mixture. Repeat, several times, layering the root vegetables, spinach and herbs with the creme fraiche mixture until everything is used up. Cover tightly with kitchen foil then place in a roasting tin. Place a board and a heavy weight on top of the loaf tin.

Pour hot water into the roasting tin, coming half way up the sides of the loaf tin then carefully place in the hot oven. Bake for an hour, then test with a metal skewer. It should glide effortlessly through the layers. If not, return to the oven and continue cooking for 20-30 minutes until ready.

Nigel Slater’s winter root veg recipes (2024)
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