Mashed Potato, Celeriac & Carrot Bake with Parmesan & Leek
A delicious side-dish or a vegetarian meal in itself, this baked potato and leek creation is a crowd pleasure for sure! With the addition of celeriac and carrot, the potatoes become more wholesome and a little more complex in their flavor... but in a good way! In fact- in a very good way indeed!
I was going to make some little potato fritters at first- but then, being me, I opted for an oven-baked solution instead. Frying food is fine- but you know... I will always opt for a healthier and lower fat option if given the chance. And being as I live alone and cook for myself- I always get my way! Oh, but I would not inflict my culinary creations on you if they were anything less than delicious my friends! So fear not and read on!
As I said, I was intending on making the little potato cakes I love from back home in Sicily, with mashed potato, parmesan, mint and bread crumbs, which I really adore- but somehow seemed a little bit too Summery for such a cold, January evening! But here I was, mashed potatoes at the ready and hungry as could be- so of course I had to take action fast and improvise! Because I didn't really have much of a concrete plan- all that I knew was that I wanted to make a vegetable dish and use up my left-overs! So what I did was this...
I started by cutting a fine dice of both celeriac and carrot- about a cupful of each. I popped them into a saucepan with enough water to cover them and boiled them for 5 minutes. In the meantime, I sliced up a small leek and set the slices out on a steam rack, popped it into the same saucepan as the celeriac and carrot and let it cook through. I didn't want the leek to fall apart, so steaming was the best way to cook it without that happening.
After 5 minutes, I removed the leeks and added some milk to the vegetables. As soon as the milk began to boil, I seasoned it with salt, pepper and nutmeg and added the mashed potato. I stirred it in and added some finely chopped onion and parsley, adjusted the seasoning and took the soft mashed potatoes off the heat. I then added bread crumbs- enough to thicken and stiffen the mixture to a firm consistency that I could have formed into small fritters. But I didn't do that... I allowed it to cool off for 5-6 minutes...
I then added a good handful of parmesan and an egg, which I stirred into the mix quickly, to make sure it would stay nice and smooth. Lining the dish with baking paper, like I did, is by the way neither necessary, nor does it help- so don't bother! But in any case, I poured the mix into my baking dish and sprinkled it with parmesan. I then arranged the steamed, sliced leeks on top, grated them with nutmeg, seasoned with black pepper and drizzled them very lightly with olive oil... yum! And off into a pre heated oven it went- for 40-45 minutes at 350°, until golden brown. And very, very delicious. You have been warned!