Here in Chicago, the first snow of the season fell this week. Big wet flakes descended in earnest, promising a white winter to come. After a magical walk along the lake, I stepped inside with icy fingers and toes, craving something hearty and nourishing to chase the cold from my body.

This winter comfort bowl is the perfect dinner for such frosty days. It is creamy and filling and each part of the dish adds a new complexity of flavor. The result is a bowl of pure comfort that is just as healthy as it is delicious!

This recipe is full of root vegetables, which are at their best this time of year. The base layer is a celery root mash, which is super creamy and tastes very similar to mashed potatoes–only better! On top of this comes a roasted butternut squash and red onion dish with lots of fresh ginger root and tart cranberries. Finally to top it all off is some sautéed garlicky kale with lots of chili and lemon. The final touch is a drizzle of elderberry balsamic vinegar. This brings all the elements and flavors together to create one of the most delicious and unique dinners I’ve had in a long time!

You can find elderberry balsamic vinegar in specialty oil shops. French or European markets may have it as well, as elderberries are more common in Europe than they are here.  If you are unable to find it, however, you can still make this recipe! Just use your best quality plain balsamic vinegar mixed with a few drops of maple syrup.

Celery root mash ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 celery roots
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

Roasted butternut squash ingredients:

  • 1/2 large butternut squash
  • 1/2 large red onion
  • 3/4 cup fresh cranberries
  • Thumb size piece fresh ginger root
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Drizzle of olive oil

Spiced kale ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 bunches lacinato kale
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • Sprinkle of chili flakes
  • Salt to taste

Garnish ingredients:

  • Drizzle of elderberry balsamic vinegar (substitute with plain balsamic vinegar with a few drops of maple syrup if you cannot find this)

Begin by peeling and cubing the celery roots. I always call these the trolls of vegetables–for good reason as they’re so ugly! They really are very delicious though, so give them a try before you replace them with potatoes 😉

Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over low heat and add in the crushed garlic. Let this cook for a minute or so before adding in the celery root, coconut milk and water.

Put the cover on and bring the mixture to a boil before turning the heat down to simmer. Set a timer for 20 minutes and let the celery root cook while you prepare the next dish.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Peel and cube the butternut squash into bite sized pieces. I like to cut up the whole squash and store the part I don’t need in the fridge already cubed so I can easily throw it into another dish.

Remove the skin from the red onion and cut it in half vertically. Cut it in half again so that you have two halves of a sphere. Lay the flat part down and thinly slice the onion into half moon shapes.

Rinse the cranberries and grate the ginger root.

Place everything in a bowl and sprinkle in the cumin, a large dash of salt and some black pepper. Generously drizzle the olive oil on top of everything and mix well so that the spices and oil coat each piece of squash and onion.

Spread the mixture out onto a baking sheet and place in the oven for twenty minutes.

While the butternut squash roasts, return to your celery root dish. The roots should be soft by now and easily pierced with a fork.

Add the celery root, liquid and all to a food processor or blender. Mix until everything is well combined. You should have a creamy mixture resembling mashed potatoes. Return this to the pot and add in the nutritional yeast and lemon juice. Do a taste test before seasoning it with salt and pepper, a pinch at a time.

Your celery root mash is now ready. Put the lid on and leave the pot on low heat while you finish preparing the rest of the meal.

Return to the roasting veggies. After twenty minutes give them a good shuffle so that they cook evenly. Return the tray to the oven and cook for another twenty minutes.

Meanwhile make the kale.

Wash your kale leaves and remove the stems. Reserve these to use in green smoothies or to feed your bunnies. Chop the kale into small pieces.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and add in the minced garlic. Allow this to cook until the pieces start to sizzle and the delicious aroma of garlic and olive oil fills your kitchen.

Add in the kale and stir well. Cover the pan and allow the leaves to steam for three to five minutes.

Once the kale has wilted, squeeze in the lemon juice. Turn off the heat and sprinkle in the chili flakes. I like it quite spicy so I add about one teaspoon, but add as much or as little as you like. Season the kale with a pinch of salt.

Take the butternut squash out of the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Assemble your bowl by placing a few spoonfuls of the celery root mash into a shallow bowl. Top this with a generous portion of the roasted veggies and place the sautéed kale next to the butternut squash. Drizzle everything with the elderberry balsamic vinegar and enjoy!