Photo: Kelly Rossiter
Celeriac isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you are planning a pasta sauce. Personally, I could eat a tomato based pasta sauce pretty much every day, but I felt like my husband had reached his threshold of tomato sauced dinners recently. I thought if I paired the celeriac with some finely chopped mushrooms, I might be on to something, and I was right.The first time I ever ate celeriac was at a friend's house, and he sauteed it over a very low heat for a long time so it developed a golden brown slight crispiness and had quite a nutty flavour. I had that in mind for the base of the sauce, but I didn't really have enough time to let it get to that stage, so I cooked it until it was tender, and just starting to change colour. It turned out to be a subtle, but quite nice pasta sauce. I used regular button mushrooms, but some wild mushrooms would give it a bit of a woodsy flavour.
I have to admit that I used heavy cream in this recipe, which I normally wouldn't do. I can't remember what I needed it for, but I had only used a bit of it, and there it was sitting in my refrigerator waiting to be finished off. I usually used 10% cream, or 18% if I'm feeling really decadent, so this full fat made for a pretty luscious and filling pasta sauce. When we were finished eating, my husband said "well, another heathy meatless meal" and I said "hmm". If you wanted a lighter sauce, you could also use a combination of cream and vegetable stock and then thicken it with a flour paste, or even some cornstarch.
Pasta with Celeriac and Mushrooms
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup grated celeriac
1 - 1 1/2 cups mushrooms, finely chopped
1 cup cream, whatever fat content you are comfortable with
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, and more for garnish
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste
Pasta for two
1. In a large pot heat the olive oil until it shimmers. Add onion and celeriac and cook until tender, about 15 or 20 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until they have released their liquid and are starting to get golden brown, about 10 minutes.
2. Add cream and cayenne and heat through. If you are using less than 35% cream, do not let the sauce boil or it will curdle. Taste for salt and pepper.
3. In the meantime, cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. Drain pasta, and place in a large bowl, or individual plates and ladle sauce over pasta. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.