Parsley root is exactly what it sounds like: the root of a parsley plant. They can be cultivated in a size as large as parsnips, and from their appearance they could easily be mistaken for parsnips. But they have a different flavor, and taste like parsley. When roasted, parsley root gets a nice sweet earthy flavor. That is what I used to create this lovely vegetarian pasta dish, that is rustic as well as simple and at the same time special because it uses such an unusual ingredient. Here’s what I did…
For 2 servings
500 grams (1.1 lbs) parsley roots, so you will have about 400 grams (.9 lb) when trimmed and peeled
150 grams (.33 lb) short pasta such as farfalle
30 grams (1 oz) freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, plus more for garnish
1 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
2 Tbsp beef suet, coconut oil, or other fat with a very high smoke point (e.g. not extra virgin olive oil)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 225C/440F. Put 2 tablespoons of beef suet or coconut oil in an oven proof dish and allow it to melt in the preheating oven while you prepare the parsley roots.
Since the parsley root will be roasted at 225C/440F, which is above the smoke point of extra virgin olive oil and many other vegetable oils, it is important to use fat with a smoke point that is higher than 225C/440F. Beef suet fits the bill and adds a subtle layer of flavor.
Peel and trim the parsley roots and cut them into slices of about 4 mm (1/6 inch) thick. Cut larger slices in half. When the fat has melted and the oven has been preheated, toss the parsley root slices in the oven dish, arrange the slices in a single layer as much as possible, and put the oven dish in the oven. Roast for 15 minutes at 225C/440F. In the meantime, bring a pot of water to a boil.
After 15 minutes of roasting, take the dish out of the oven and turn the slices so they can cook evenly on both sides. Return the dish to the oven.
When the water boils, add salt and 150 grams (.33 lb) of pasta, and cook it for the time indicated for al dente on the package.
After another 15 minutes or so, the parsley root should be tender on the inside and golden on the outside.
Take the parsley root out of the oven.
When the pasta is al dente, drain it, reserving some of the cooking water, and add the drained pasta to the dish with the parsley root.
Add 30 grams of freshly grated parmigiano reggiano and about 2 tablespoons of the cooking water.
Add a tablespoon of minced parsley as well.
Toss to mix, until the pasta and parsley root are coated with the ‘sauce’ of cooking water, cheese, and parsley. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Serve at once on preheated plates.
Celeriac ravioli with eel tomato sauce is a dish that takes some effort to prepare (especially if you buy live eel and clean them yourself), but the reward is definitely worth it in terms of flavor. The creamy eel stewed in tomato sauce pairs wonderfully with the earthy celeriac ravioli.