So this could have gone terribly wrong, but somehow it worked. Expecting our new veg box today, we thought we best use up what we had left over from last week’s box for dinner last night. Well, this included a fresh fennel and celeriac. Quite a combination! We also had carrots, potato and onion.
I’ve tasted fennel before, but never ever purchased one, especially not a fresh one. The only thing I could remember is an aniseed flavour. As for the celeriac, we had never ever purchased one or tried one. The first thing that sprung to my mind is they sure do look ugly! Flicking through our cookbook the celeriac seemed to be very versatile. They can be eaten raw, sliced up in a salad, roasted or even mashed.
Here’s what celeriac and fennel look like:
By Radim Dudek (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
A very pretty celeriac!
© Rolf Krahl / CC BY-SA 3.0 DE (via Wikimedia Commons) [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en), CC BY-SA 2.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/de/deed.en) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Having a bag of Quorn mince in the freezer we decided to experiment and make a veggie cottage pie. I’d made a really good one a week or so back, but I wasn’t quite so sure this version would make it to our plates.
I used a large wok for this part and heated a dollop of extra virgin olive oil. I added one thinly sliced fennel (think onion sized slices), one sliced onion and a couple of sliced carrots. I stirred these for around ten minutes. I then added loads of peas, about half a large bag of Quorn mince, 600ml(ish) of vegetable gravy/stock, a big squirt of tomato puree, a large splash of balsamic vinegar, black pepper & dried mixed herbs. Phew! I mixed this altogether and left to cook for around ten minutes, until it tasted ready to eat. This was then poured into a large glass dish ready for the mash topping.
I boiled chunks of two peeled potatoes, chunks of one peeled celeriac and a sliced, peeled carrot. This is best to do first and leave boiling whilst prepping the main filling. Once super soft and mashable I added a few splashes of whole milk and a couple of handfuls of grated extra mature cheddar. I mashed these until smooth and spread on top of the Quorn mince mixture.
Whilst prepping the above, I had preheated the fan oven to 200 degrees. I popped the completed dish in for 25 minutes until the mash was a little browned and the mince mixture was bubbling away nicely.
Time to eat…!
Veggie Celeriac & Fennel Cottage Pie; Precooked & Dished Up!
Ben very bravely took the first mouthful and exclaimed ‘Wow, really tasty’. I first had to ask if he was joking, but then I tucked in and it was actually delicious! Bella even had two toddler size portions so it was definitely a winner!
I was really surprised. The aniseed taste of the fennel, which I thought may be quite overpowering, was barely noticeable. Perhaps this taste is stronger when not cooked or dried. It added a nice texture to the pie and a subtle sweet flavour. The celeriac was really delicious too. It was surprisingly similar to potato mash in texture, again with a slightly sweeter flavour. The whole dish was truly scrumptious. We had to hold ourselves back from demolishing the entire lot in one sitting!
I will definitely be using both these ingredients again, especially celeriac. It would be perfect in a chunky stew, used as a mash side dish instead of potato or even cut into raw slices in a salad.
Before I go, here are some speedy facts about celeriac and fennel.
- Subtle celery taste
- Contains many antioxidants (protection against disease)
- Great source of vitamin K (helps blood clot for wound healing & great for good bone health)
- Contains many essential minerals including iron, copper, calcium and manganese (copper works with iron to form healthy red blood cells, calcium maintains strong bones & manganese helps with formation of bones)
- You can eat every part of the fennel; bulb, leaves & seeds
- High in fibre (fab for digestion)
- Good levels of potassium (great for blood pressure)
- Great for preventing bad breath & preventing flatulence!
Thanks for reading,