Celeriac Purée with Spiced Cauliflower and Quail’s Eggs
Ras el hanout is a North African blend of sweet and hot spices, finely ground. There’s no definitive list of the spices which are combined – hanout means ‘shop’ in Arabic and every shop has its own ‘top-of-the shop’ variety – but it usually includes ginger, cardamom, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, black pepper and cinnamon. Ready-made varieties are widely available and generally fine, but feel free to add to them for your own top-of-the-shop creation. We find that we often need to add a bit more cinnamon when using ready-made varieties.
The celeriac purée works well as an alternative to hummus, if you want to make just this to snack on before a meal. With the additional elements, though, it’s a substantial starter or even a little meal in itself, served with some warm crusty bread or white pitta.
We like to fry the eggs – the crispy edges of a fried egg workparticularly well with the purée – but soft-boiled also works, if you prefer.
- For the celeriac purée :
- 60ml olive olive, plus 1 tbsp to serve
- 1 large onion, roughly diced (160g)
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 large celeriac, peeled and cut roughly into 2cm pieces (600g)
- 500ml vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp tahini paste
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
- coarse sea salt and black pepper
- For the spiced cauliflower:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced (160g)
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 tsp ras el hanout
- 1 medium cauliflower, trimmed and coarsely grated (650g)
- 2 tbsp finely diced preserved lemon skin
- 90g almonds, skin on, toasted and roughly chopped
- 50g parsley, roughly chopped
- For the quail's eggs:
- 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 6 or 12 quail's eggs
If you make the purée the day before, just cover it with cling film – actually touching the surface of the purée – to prevent it forming a skin. It’s better at room temperature rather than fridge-cold, so bring it out of the fridge at least half an hour before serving.
First make the celeriac purée. Place the 60ml of olive oil in a medium saucepan on a medium-high heat. Add the onions and fry for 5–6 minutes, stirring often, until soft and starting to caramelize. Add the garlic and bay leaves and cook for another minute before adding the celeriac. Fry for 8–10 minutes, stirring often, so that all sides are golden-brown. Pour over the stock, bring to the boil, then simmer on a medium heat for about 15 minutes, until the celeriac is cooked through. Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaves and transfer to a blender or food processor. Blitz to form a smooth purée before adding the tahini, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Set aside until ready to serve. (You can make this in advance and keep it in the fridge-see above.)
Put the oil for the spiced cauliflower into a large sauté pan and place on a medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes, then add the ras el hanout and cook for another minute. Pour over 100ml of water and stir through for a minute before removing from the heat. Fold in the cauliflower, preserved lemon, almonds, half of the parsley and 1 teaspoon of salt and set aside to cool.
When ready to serve, divide the purée between six plates. Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon of oil over each portion, spread the cauliflower on top and sprinkle over the smoked paprika and remaining parsley.
To fry the quail’s eggs, place a large frying pan on a medium heat and add the oil. When hot, crack each egg individually into the pan and fry for 30–60 seconds. Season with a pinch of salt and a grind of black pepper, then place an egg or two on top of each portion of cauliflower and serve at once.
Watch Ottolenghi & Scully make the recipe below: