Celery Root Skordalia
Traditionally, skordalia is a Greek potato and garlic puree that is served with just about anything-meats, vegetables, fish, and grilled bread-or as a common mezze. Like a garlicky mashed potato and lemon sauce, skordalia has the consistency of thick Greek-style yogurt.
As is frequently the case with greek dishes, skordalia is all about garlic and lemon, and it doesn’t always include nuts. I use the Arabic technique of adding nuts in this recipe, though, to make a “milk” by pureeing them with oil, lemon, garlic, and water. This technique creates a sublimely creamy consistency without the heaviness of cream or butter.
This twist on classic skordalia is perfect in the fall, when celery root is in season and garlic has finished curing. Celery root, or celeriac, tastes like a rich, nutty cross between celery and potato.
At Oleana, we also make this recipe in the spring, using Jerusalem artichokes and parsnips. For a luxurious variation, you can also stir in black truffle shavings or white truffle oil before serving to impart a heady late autumn aroma.
This skordalia tastes great at room temperature or even cold as a mezze, and it pairs well as a side dish with grilled beef kebobs or with roasted beets as a mezze or salad course.
If you can’t find blanched almonds. You can bring 3 cups of water to a boil and add 1 cup of whole raw almonds, and continue to boil for 45 seconds to 1 minute. Drain. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then pop the almonds out of their skin one at a time by pinching the nut between your thumb and forefinger and middle finger. Spread the nuts out to dry.
Total Timeunder 2 hours
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party, Family Get-together
Recipe Courseantipasto/mezze, side dish
Dietary Considerationantipasto/mezze, side dish
Equipmentblender, food mill, food processor
Taste and Texturebuttery, creamy, garlicky, nutty, rich
Type of Dishdip/spread
- 1 large or 2 small celery roots (2 to 2¼ pounds)
- 1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon whole milk, plain yogurt, preferably Greek style
- 2 baking or Idaho potatoes (about 1½ pounds), peeled and cut into quarters
- ¾ cup whole blanched almonds (see Notes)
- 1½ tablespoons garlic, roughly chopped (about 3 cloves)
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (about ½ lemon)
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
Cut both ends of the celery root so it stands on a cutting board, Using a knife, peel it by following its shape, starting at the north pole, rounding out at the equator, and ending at the south pole, shave it without cutting into too much of the vegetable. After peeling, rinse the celery root to remove any dirt and then cut it into eighths. Place the pieces in a medium saucepan. Cover them with warm water and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium and simmer about 25 minutes, until tender. Drain the celery root, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
While the celery root is still hot, purée it in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, with the yogurt and 1 to 2 tablespoons of the reserved cooking liquid, until smooth and creamy, 3 to 4 minutes, Place the purée into a medium mixing bowl and set it aside.
Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover them and 1 tablespoon of the salt, and bring them to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the potatoes for about 18 minutes, until tender, and then drain them.
While the potatoes are still hot, mash them through a ricer or food mill and mix into the celery root. The ricer or food mill gives you a fine, fluffy puree.
Place the almonds, garlic, remaining cooking liquid, lemon juice, and olive oil in a blender with 2 teaspoons of the salt, Blend until completely smooth, for about 2 minutes, so that there are no bits of nuts left and the mixture is blond and creamy.
Fold the nut mixture into the potato-celery root mixture and reseason with salt and black pepper.
2006 Ana Sortun