Alistair Little is one of Britain 's most influential chefs and can be credited with the revolution in food that started to take place in the 80s. Head chef at 192, L'Escargot and then his own eponymous restaurant Alistair Little in Soho, his food is characterised by simplicity, seasonality and innate good taste. The book, Keep it Simple, that he wrote with Richard Whittington is widely regarded as one of the classic food books of recent years. Today he runs the Tavola in West London, a food and tableware shop that supplies the lucky inhabitants of Westbourne Grove with take-away food cooked by Alastair.
The idea for this dish came from Claudia Roden's recipe for winter vegetables in olive oil. It works very well in the restaurant as it is equally good hot or cold. Turkish in origin, it manages to lift coarse root vegetables into a surprisingly light and refreshing dish.
2 large carrots
1 small celeriac
1 large potato
1 large onion
large bunch of dill
300ml extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
Mise en Place
Wash and peel the vegetables. Keeping the vegetables separate, chop them into uniform cubes about 2.5cm across Squeeze the juice from the lemons and reserve. If serving immediately, chop the dill.
Put the large heavy pan over a low heat and pour in all the oil. Sweat the onion in this for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrots and sweat for a further 5 minutes, then add the rest of the vegetables.
Stew for another 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add the leeks and cook for a final 5 minutes. The vegetables should not colour there will be enough water in them to prevent frying at this temperature. The leeks will lose their fresh green colour, but this does not matter. Test now to see if everything is cooked, bearing in mind that all the elements should retain a residual bite.
Season generously and add the lemon juice, taste to check for acid balance, then serve at once or transfer to a bowl and leave to cool.
Serve hot or at room temperature. If chilled, return to a pan and warm gently in its own juices. Just before bringing to the table, stir in plenty of chopped dill.
© Alastair Little
155 Westbourne Grove