A silky-smooth celeriac, chestnut and tahini puree is folded into this risotto just before serving, creating an unbelievably creamy texture without the use of cheese, butter, cream or any ultra-processed plant-based alternatives. I’ve simplified Sophie Gordon’s original by cutting the number of cooking steps and using the celeriac cooking water as the stock.
I’ve also used short-grain brown rice instead of traditional polished arborio because I’m a staunch wholefood chef. Short-grain brown rice is an absolute joy: it’s hyper-nutritious and has a marvellous taste, texture and sweetness. Unfortunately, supermarkets don’t stock it, so you’ll have to shop online or get it from a wholefood store. I’m delighted to report that, with Sophie’s incredible celeriac and chestnut puree, it works perfectly here, becoming creamy and unctuous with the perfect “bite”. It can be hard to cook risotto rice al dente, but brown rice gets over that because of its nutty taste and texture, which mean it holds a firm bite for longer. The recipe will also work with brown basmati rice or risotto rice, but you’ll need to adjust the cooking times accordingly.
Whole celeriac and chestnut risotto
500-600g whole celeriac
100g cooked chestnuts, plus 6 extra, grated, to serve
4 garlic cloves, peeled, 2 finely chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary, picked, optional
2 bay leaves
1 heaped tbsp tahini
1 lemon, zest and juiced
1 tbsp miso, optional
50g nutritional yeast, optional
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
150g dark green leek tops, finely sliced
400g short-grain brown rice
100ml white wine
Salt and black pepper
Scrub the celeriac under the tap, scraping out any soil from the root using a paring knife. Dice into cubes and put in a saucepan with the chestnuts, the whole garlic cloves, the thyme or rosemary leaves, if using, and the bay leaves. Add water to cover, pop on the lid and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer, cook for 20 minutes, until the celeriac is fork-tender, then drain the stock into a bowl.
Put the celeriac in a blender or food processor, add three-quarters of the tahini, the lemon juice and the miso and nutritional yeast, if using.
Put the olive oil in a heavy-based pan on a medium heat, then add the onion, leek tops and the two finely chopped garlic cloves and fry gently, stirring, for five minutes. Add the rice, cook, stirring, for two minutes, then pour in the wine and bring to a fierce boil, still stirring. Add the reserved celeriac stock to cover, then simmer, stirring regularly and adding more stock as required, for 35 minutes, until the rice is al dente. Stir in the celeriac puree, season to taste and serve topped with a swirl of olive oil, some grated chestnut and the lemon zest.