If you’re able to get a fire going in your garden or courtyard, you’ll have to think in a different way and learn the same basic science. You’ll make the emotional connections with nature and enjoy really delicious food. It’s clear we’re happier if we can be outside, but the planet seems happier if we’re not. It’s an uncomfortable thought, but one we can learn so much from.

Gill Meller cooking outside
© Andrew Montgomery

By connecting with our immediate environment in a more conscious, sensitive, ancient way, we develop a deeper understanding of how fragile parts of it have become, and may discover new ways we can help to fix it.

Sometimes I wonder if cooking is as selfish as it is generous. Who am I trying to please, first? Is the desire to share stronger than the desire for praise? Could I ever make something I don’t like, but you do? I’ve been sitting in the dark dreaming again.

This is an edited extract from the book Outside: Recipes for a Wilder Way of Eating by Gill Meller, with photographs by Andrew Montgomery, which is published by Quadrille, priced £30.


  • 150g Celeriac peeled (about a quarter of one)
  • Fresh thyme
  • Radicchio
  • Mejool Dates (halved and stoned)

For the dressing

  • 2tbsp Wholegrain mustard
  • 2tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1tbsp Runny honey
  • 3tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small rosemary sprig (leaves picked and finely chopped)


  • STEP 1

    Combine all the ingredients for the dressing, with salt and pepper to taste, in a bowl or jar and mix or shake thoroughly. Set aside.

  • STEP 2

    Slice the celeriac into really fine matchsticks. You can do this using a mandolin or with a sharp knife. Either way, it’s important the pieces aren’t too thick, so take your time. Pour half the dressing over the prepared celeriac, add half the thyme leaves and some salt and pepper and tumble it all together.

  • STEP 3

    Separate the radicchio into individual leaves. Give them a rinse and a quick dry. Arrange them ‘cup-side up’ if you like, on a big open platter. Load each leaf with as much of the dressed celeriac as seems practical. You should be able to use it all up without too much trouble.

  • STEP 4

    Split the date halves in half again. Scatter the pieces over the celeriac and spoon over the remaining dressing. Scatter over the last of the thyme leaves and season everything lightly with salt and pepper. Serve.