Seasonal produce and pasta so often collide in delicious but rather boring combinations. Sure, it's the easiest route to employing what you get from the market: boil pasta, add vegetables, and add a knob of butter and some Parmesan to help bring it all together. But since I'm always on the lookout for something more interesting, I was intrigued by this recipe from Stephanie Izard's new cookbook Girl in the Kitchen (the food she turns out at her incredibly popular Chicago restaurant Girl and the Goat has received accolade after accolade). It involves a little more transformation of the ingredients into something special.
When I plated this pasta, I started to get really worried. This is about as beige as food comes—how the heck would I make something like this look tasty? But hidden inside the creamy celeriac purée made with cream and vegetable stock are caramelized apples, cubes of crisp pancetta, and wilted red onion. Slivers of celery add a crunchy echo of the celeriac. It's a satisfying combination. My only change was to add a little white wine to the pan to add some acidity.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 clove garlic, minced
- 3 cups diced celeriac (celery root)
- 1/4 cup diced waxy potato (such as Yukon Gold)
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 pound dried linguine
- 1 cup diced pancetta
- 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered, and sliced into wedges
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 2 ribs celery, thinly sliced, plus celery leaves for garnish
In a large saucepan or stock pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-low heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and cook until soft but not brown, then add the celery root and potato. Stir well to coat the vegetables and cook until the potato begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and cream, bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until the celeriac is tender, about 30 minutes. Use an immersion blender (or transfer to a standard blender) and purée.
In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Before draining, reserve one cup of pasta cooking water.
While the pasta cooks, heat the remaining olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium heat and add the pancetta. Cook until beginning to crisp at the edges, about 5 minutes, then add the apples and onions. Continue cooking until the apples are caramelized and almost soft and the onion is wilted, 5-7 minutes more. Add the wine and cook until it's completely evaporated and the apples are tender all the way through.
Add the pasta to the pancetta-apple mixture, then pour in the celeriac purée to create a sauce (you may not need all the purée; it should just coat the pasta and not smother it). If necessary, thin with a little reserved pasta water. Serve immediately with the reserved celery leaves.