Almost every region in Italy has its version of stuffed pasta. Historically vegetable-based fillings were eaten year round by those too poor to buy meat but such is not the case today. Homemade pasta is so easy to make and not as fussy as one might think. Celeriac, (also known as celery root), is an odd looking root vegetable with its knotty exterior. Celeriac has a celery flavor and can be eaten raw or cooked. When purchasing celeriac, look for firm, small-to-medium, and sprout-free. Avoid large roots as these will have a woody texture and not so pleasant to eat. Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids and when added to your diet can be an important step in improving cardiovascular health. If you like this recipe using celeriac, then you may also like apple and celeriac salad.
400g Italian ’00′ flour
4 eggs, beaten
1 celeriac, peeled, cut into cubes
1 onion, peeled, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled, crushed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons clear honey
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
3 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
50g Pecorino or Parmesan, finely grated
4 tablespoons walnut oil
To make the pasta, sift the flour into a bowl and make a well in the center. Add the eggs to the well, then bring the mixture together to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 4-5 minutes, until smooth. Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for at last 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200c (390f). To make the filling, put the celeriac, onion, garlic and thyme in a roasting pan. Drizzle with the honey and olive oil, season well, then toss. Roast for 25 minutes, or until the celeriac is soft. Leave to cool slightly, then mash coarsely.
To make the pesto, chop walnuts, garlic and rosemary very finely in a food processor or by hand. Stir in the Pecorino and walnut oil and season to taste.
Roll out the chilled pasta dough to 1mm thickness using a pasta maker or a rolling pin. Cut the pasta into two long pieces of equal size, then place teaspoonfuls of the filling at even intervals across one half of the pasta. Brush around the filling to seal, and cover with the second pasta sheet. Press lightly around the filling to seal, then cut into squares using a sharp knife or pastry wheel. Lay the ravioli on a sheet of greaseproof paper, light dusted with semolina.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil and drop in the ravioli in batches (remember not to over crowd the pan). Cook 2-3 minutes, until the pasta rises to the the surface and is soft but still retains a little bite. Drain, then toss immediately with the walnut pesto. Serve at once.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: The aromatics coming from this dish filled my kitchen with earthy scents. I found this incredible walnut oil, La Tourangelle, at Pete’s Frootique. This oil is so light and the roasted flavor of the walnuts came through ever so slightly. Good-quality walnut oil is important in a recipe like this. Drizzle some over the ravioli for added flavor. I have to admit I’ve never experienced walnut pesto so I wasn’t too sure I’d like it as I find that walnuts can have a somewhat bitter aftertaste. I’m so happy I persevered! What a delightful taste. It really was the icing on the cake; err should I say ravioli! Buon appetito!