Meera Sodha’s cele­riac, tofu and kale gado gado

The Guardian - Weekend - - Content - Meera Sodha @meera­sodha

Ev­ery home cook can get stuck in a rut, and I’m sure I’m not the only per­son who oc­ca­sion­ally stares va­cantly at the veg­etable rack, won­der­ing how to trans­form a few lone rangers into din­ner. You have to be on the front foot to keep putting plants at the cen­tre of your plate.

It’s not enough to have just one way with broc­coli or the same old roast pota­toes. You need a Swiss army knife of tools at your dis­posal: a bit of knowl­edge of what goes with what, a va­ri­ety of cook­ing tech­niques and, most im­por­tantly, an open mind.

Some veg­eta­bles, in par­tic­u­lar, can be­come a ve­gan’s best friend, in that they’re al­ways guar­an­teed to help you out. For me, cele­riac takes the prize as au­tumn’s most flex­i­ble root. Granted, this bul­bous, warty lit­tle fel­low won’t win awards for looks, and you might need to give its mud­filled crevices a bit of at­ten­tion, but it’s worth it. The cele­riac boasts more flex­i­bil­ity than its other root peers in that it can be mashed, bar­be­cued or grilled, and also eaten raw. It’s also a great veg­etable from which to hang a meal around, be­cause it’s bold enough to have a cel­ery-meets-nut flavour and also gen­tle enough to rub along with other flavours.

In to­day’s dish, a warm In­done­sian salad, I’ve roasted it with potato and kale, and topped it with smoked tofu. By roast­ing the cele­riac in slices, it be­comes charred and crispy, as well as sweet and ten­der, and that bal­ances per­fectly the punchy flavours of a clas­sic gado gado dress­ing dress­ing, with its peanuts, chill­ies and tamarind. In­ci­den­tally, gado gado means “mix mix”, which are not bad words to live by in the kitchen so as not to get stuck in a rut.

Cele­riac, tofu and crispy kale gado gado

The key to a good gado gado is the dress­ing: it should be hot, creamy, sweet and sour all at once, so ad­just it un­til it tastes just right to you be­fore lib­er­ally smoth­er­ing the veg­eta­bles. You’ll need a blen­der. Serves four. 1 small cele­riac (about 600g), peeled­peeled, halved and cut into 0.5cm slices

600g char­lotte pota­toes, quar­tered Salt

4 tbsp rape­seed oil

200g kale, ribs dis­carded, leaves roughly torn into pieces

200g pack smoked tofu (I like the Tai­fun brand), cut into 0.5cm-thick slices For the dress­ing 150g chunky peanut but­ter

2 tsp dark brown sugar

2 tbsp tamarind paste

2 red bird’s-eye chill­ies, chopped 1 tbsp soy sauce

½ gar­lic clove, peeled and crushed Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Put the cele­riac, potato, a tea­spoon of salt and two ta­ble­spoons of oil in a roast­ing tray, toss with your hands to coat ev­ery­thing in oil, then spread out into one flat layer. Roast for 25 min­utes, un­til the cele­riac and pota­toes have bur­nished edges.

Mean­while, pre­pare the kale.

In a large bowl, mas­sage a tea­spoon of salt and a ta­ble­spoon of oil into the kale for a few min­utes, un­til the leaves start to soften, then set aside while you make the sauce.

Put all the dress­ing ingredients in a blen­der with 150ml wa­ter and pulse un­til smooth. (You may need a lit­tle more wa­ter, de­pend­ing on the thick­ness of your peanut but­ter.)

Spread the kale in a sin­gle layer on top of the cele­riac and pota­toes, then re­turn the tray to the oven for eight to 10 min­utes, turn­ing the leaves half­way through so they cook evenly (and to en­sure they don’t burn). The kale is ready when it has started to dry out and is crunchy to the touch. Re­move from the oven and leave to one side.

Fi­nally, in a non-stick fry­ing pan over a medium flame, heat the last ta­ble­spoon of oil and, when hot, add the tofu and fry for a minute on each side, un­til golden brown.

To as­sem­ble the salad, layer the roast cele­riac and potato with the tofu slices and crunchy kale on a plat­ter, then driz­zle over the gado gado dress­ing and serve.

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