Creamy, cheesy and portable, these bites are full of goodness and perfect for lunch on the go
CELERIAC MAY LOOK UNAPPETISING WITH ITS GNARLY, HAIRY EXTERIOR BUT THE FLESH INSIDE IS DELICIOUS AND WORTH THE TIME IT TAKES TO PEEL. RICH IN IRON, FIBRE AND CALCIUM, IT’S THE PERFECT SWITCH FOR THOSE SEEKING AN ALTERNATIVE TO DAIRY IN A CHEESE SAUCE.
While we are a vegetarian and not a vegan household we consciously avoid eating a lot of dairy. Whether it’s for environmental, animal rights or health reasons, recipes like this are worth trying as they’re tasty, low in fat and animal free. I was so surprised at how creamy the sauce became with the addition of celeriac and by adding a combination of turmeric, nutritional yeast and English mustard the sauce takes on a deep yellow hue that makes it appear even cheesier! It would work well as a replacement for any recipe requiring a béchamel sauce, I’m thinking gratins, pies or other baked pasta dishes like lasagna or ziti.
Suitable from 9 months
- 1 medium Celeriac, peeled and chopped
- 1 tbs Vegetable Fat (shortening)
- 2 tbs Plain Flour
- 400ml Milk (oat, almond, soy or regular for non vegans)
- 2 tbs Nutritional Yeast
- 1/4 tsp Ground Turmeric
- 1/4 tsp English Mustard Powder
- A sprinkle of Garlic Granules
- Salt and white pepper to taste
- 300g Conchigliette
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°
- Peel the celeriac and remove any tough deep roots, roughly chopping the white part and placing in a steamer or in a sieve over a pan of boiling water with a large lid. Steam until soft, around 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make a roux by melting your fat in a medium sized saucepan, over a medium heat. You could also use a vegetable oil, like olive oil or coconut. Add the flour, turmeric and mustard powder and whisk them together with the fat, cooking your roux out for a few minutes to get rid of the floury taste. Then slowly, whisk in your milk, aiming for a lump free sauce. If there are lumps, don’t worry, nothing a sieve can’t fix later.
- Once the sauce has begun to thicken and it is fairly hot - though not boiling, add in the nutritional yeast, garlic granules and season to taste. This is the part where my sauce became a bit lumpy, so I sieved it over another pan and it was really quick to do and meant it was perfectly smooth.
- Using a food processor or rice mill, blend your celeriac for a minute or so until it is perfectly smooth. If it is too dry, loosen with a splash of water. Then add the pureed veg to your sauce, combining it with a wooden spoon.
- Cook your pasta to packet instructions before stirring it through the sauce. You can use any pasta for this as you will be blitzing it a bit for the weaning recipe. If you are making it for a toddler or adult then I suggest conchigliette or macaroni. Add the pasta slowly and leave some pasta back if you need too.
- Blitz briefly for weaning or leave chunky for older children and spoon into a non stick muffin pan. A mini muffin pan would be ideal, I used a regular muffin pan and they are quite large for a toddler to hold easily. I poured what was left of the mix into a pie dish and froze to bake at a later date.
- You can make an optional crispy topping using breadcrumbs, a little olive oil, garlic granules, herbs and salt and pepper. I have left this out of the ingredients list as it’s not essential but a nice extra. My toddler preferred the bites without the crumb, I preferred them with so you make the call! If wanted, sprinkle them on before baking.
- Bake in the oven for around 18 minutes, until the tops start to brown, then pop out of the tins to cool on a wire rack.
These can be frozen and reheated later on, just make sure they are completely cool before you put them in the freezer. Warm them through in the oven before serving.