Poached leeks, steamed broccoli and cheesy gratin: Joe Woodhouse’s spring veg recipes | Spring food and drink

Celeriac gratin with parsley Parmesan cheese crust

You could use cider or white wine instead of the water – just allow the alcohol to bubble off in the pan before replacing the lid.

Prep 15 mins
cooking 1 hr 15 mins
serves 4-6

2 medium celeriac (about 1.6kg)
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 onions
peeled and sliced
salt and black pepper
200g fresh cream
or 200ml double cream with 2 tbsp lemon juice
250g day-old sourdough
roughly cubed
150g parmesan
or a vegetarian option, roughly cubed
40g parsley
roughly chopped

You could use cider or white wine instead of the water – just allow the alcohol to bubble off in the pan before replacing the lid.

Top and tail the celeriac, put it on a flat side on a chopping board and cut off the skin. Then cut it into 2cm slices. Cut across these to form batons roughly 2cm wide, then along these at 2cm intervals to form 2cm cubes.

Heat the oven to 210C (190C fan)/410F/gas 6½. Add two tablespoons of the oil to a large saucepan with a lid. Add the onion with a good pinch of salt, and cook on a medium heat for 12-15 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the celeriac, cook for another few minutes, turning it around in the pan to prevent catching. Add 200ml of water, cover, and cook gently for about 15 minutes, until the celeriac is just tender in the centre.

Add the creme fraiche and a good grind of black pepper, and bring to a bubble for a minute. Remove from the heat and check the seasoning – I am generous with the salt and like it punchy with pepper. Spread evenly in a 30 x 20cm oven dish.

In a food processor, blitz the bread, parmesan, parsley and remaining three tablespoons of oil with a pinch of salt until it is the texture of coarse breadcrumbs, and the parsley and cheese are well combined. Sprinkle this evenly over the celeriac.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden and crisp on top and bubbling underneath. It reheats very well, so if you have leftovers, transfer to a small tray and heat through at 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6 for 15 minutes.

Poached leeks with grated egg and fried capers

I can’t get enough of leeks this way, they’re so fresh and made for layering flavors on top. Do also try it with chopped fresh herbs or, instead of the vinegar, the vinaigrette from the broccoli recipe.

Prep 10 minutes
cooking 15 mins
serves 4-6

400g leeksabout 5 medium
3 eggs
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
60g caps
2-4 tbsp red-wine vinegar
Sea salt and black pepper

Bring a pan of salted water to a boil, and fill a large mixing bowl with cold water and ice. Trim the root ends of the leeks, and only the very ends of their green tops. Remove the tough outer layer, and check for soil in between the layers and rinse out, if needed. Cut the leeks into roughly 9cm sections, checking again for any hidden soil.

Blanch the leeks until tender and fall from a knife when pierced– five to seven minutes. Retrieve from the pan and put in the ice bath. Once cool, drain well in a colander set over a bowl (to reserve the ice water – you will need it again.)

While the leeks are cooling, add the eggs to a medium saucepan, preferably with a lid that fits. Fill with cold water and bring to a gentle boil over a medium heat. Once there, cover and bubble away for three minutes, then turn off the heat and leave with the lid on for five minutes. Drain and add to the ice bath to cool.

Add the oil and capers to a small, high-sided pan set over a medium heat. Cook, stir, until the capers are crisp and golden. When most of the bubbling stops and the capers have opened, they are done.

Arrange the leeks on a platter or serving plate and begin to layer the flavours. Douse in vinegar to your taste (you can always add more later), and add a pinch of sea salt. Peel and coarsely grate the eggs over the leeks, and add another pinch of salt. Spoon the oil and capers over the eggs and leeks, add a good grind of black pepper to finish and another small pinch of salt.

Broccoli dressing

As a side, this sits well alongside many things, such as tarts and quiches, a cheese soufflé, frittatas and omelettes, or the celeriac gratin.

Prep 10 minutes
cooking 10 minutes
serves 4-6

1x 600g broccoli
dijon mustard
4 tbsp cider vinegar
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper
1 banana shallot
or small onion, peeled, halved and very finely sliced

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a rolling boil. Meanwhile, cut the top cluster of florets from a stalk of broccoli and trim the dry stalk ends. Cut away the tough skin from the trunk, and cut the remaining stalk into three sections. Cut the head into individual florets.

Combine the rest of the ingredients, except the shallot, in a mixing bowl. Whisk well to emulsify, then add the shallot and check the seasoning.

Blanch the broccoli until a knife easily pierces through the flesh – four to six minutes. Drains really well. Agitate a couple of times to let the liquid evaporate as much as possible.

Add the broccoli to the dressing and toss well to coat everything. Taste and add more salt if needed, balancing the sweetness and acidity.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Equally, if you want to make this ahead of serving, chill the cooked broccoli in iced water. Drain well and finish in the same way from there.

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