Celeriac Pasta with Puttanesca Sauce

puttanesca

When people ask me for advice on how to become healthier, they often look at me through misty, puppy dog eyes as if they are about to lose their life savings: but do I have to give up pasta? Seems like there are a lot of folks who are very emotionally attached to those ribbons of flour. But answer is, and always will be, no. You don’t have to give up anything you really love to be a healthier person, because I think that deprivation and / or eating with the feeling of guilt is far more detrimental to one’s health than the food itself.

That being said, would you feel better if you ate something else instead? Perhaps. If you treated pasta as something special, to be greatly appreciated once in a while instead of on a nightly basis because there-is-nothing-else-to-eat? Most likely. But I am just here to plant a seed and present an alternative. I rarely eat pasta myself, only because it makes me want to lie down and take a big ol’ nap afterwards, but I will admit how good it is. Because it is. So. Good.

To change things up today, I decided that I would make pasta out of something completely different. Slightly traumatized from the bumper crop of zucchini this summer, I knew I wasn’t getting into squash noodles again, so celeriac took its place. I made celeriac noodles unintentionally for another project I was working on last week. What was supposed to be just a shaved vegetable salad turned into quite the rad discovery: when sliced thinly enough, celeriac becomes pasta! Or something close – let’s face it, nothing besides pasta will ever be pasta. Tender, creamy and with the slightest bit of nuttiness, this will be my autumn go-to for pasta replacements.

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Celeriac is that knobby, quite frightening-looking root vegetable that you’ve probably passed by in the store a few times thinking “I have no desire to eat an alien’s baby”. Well, don’t judge a book by its cover; celeriac is delicious, incredibly health-promoting and tastes very much of planet earth.

The water-soluble fiber in celeriac lowers cholesterol and may reduce the risk of heart attack. It is quite low in calories (1 cup contains only 42 calories versus the same amount of potato being 118 calories), and carbohydrates, while maintaining a good amount of fiber and no fat, so it is a prefect food choice for those looking to keep their weight down. It is beneficial to the nervous, lymphatic and urinary systems of the body.

Key nutrients in celeriac include calcium to help maintain the acid/alkaline balance in the blood; iron for oxygen transport; magnesium to sustain bone integrity; and zinc to keep your immune system strong.

Celeriac is also known as celery root, and comes from a celery-like plant of which only the root is palatable. You can of course attempt to nosh on the leafy green stalks if you desire (I sometimes add them to stock), but this vegetable is cultivated specifically for the root alone and the tops most people find inedible. The taste of celeriac is very similar to traditional celery, however there are lovely hints of parsley and walnut in there too. It is delicious cooked, making an excellent replacement for anyone avoiding potatoes due to its creaminess, but you can also enjoy it raw as I’m showing you today.

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I can’t exactly remember when I first learned about puttanesca sauce, but it must have been sometime after I met my husband, because before him I hated olives. Now I think they are the yummiest things in the world and I will order anything on a menu with them. Like this sauce – I will definitely order pasta for this sauce. It’s like eating a miracle.

Named after “Italian ladies of the night”, this traditional sauce is spicy, briny and super garlicky. The base is tomatoes, folded into a luscious combination of olive oil, red onion, garlic, capers, olives and chilies – pretty much all that is awesome. It’s really easy to make in a hurry, inexpensive, and deeply flavourful despite the short cooking time. It is the ultimate comfort food for fall and winter, and can be enjoyed folded into whole grains like quinoa or millet, and I bet delicious with a poached egg on toast as well.

Two things needed to be mentioned about this sauce. First, yes, I am using olive oil to cook with. Please note that the temperature of the oil needs to be kept as low as possible so that it does not burn, oxidize, and do more harm in your body than good. I rarely cook with olive oil as you may know, but I make an exception for this sauce and just ensure that it doesn’t get too hot. Second, please purchase good-quality olives with the pits still inside – it’s well worth it. Pitted olive have a pretty lousy texture and flavour, so splurge a bit, pit the olives yourself and you’ll notice a big difference.

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66 comments

  1. Molly Withers

    Just finished the Whole Living 2013 action plan and am very excited and motivated to keep it going! This recipe will be my first meal after the cleanse! I’m already a big fan of celeriac, and am looking forward to trying this. Your posts are very inspiring-thank you!

  2. Chelsea // The Naked Fig

    Never would have thought to use celeriac for noodles! I’ll have to give it a try. That puttanesca sauce sounds delicious. And I’m craving comforting dishes like these as the weather gets cooler and cooler. Thanks for your inspiration, Sarah!

  3. Sofia Galvão

    Thanks for the new recipe. I am always eagerly awaiting your next post. :)
    I hope all is well with your and your bun in the oven.

  4. Belinda @themoonblushbaker

    I can never replace pasta in my life but i do enjoy have more veggie on my plate. Anything to achieve a balance in my sweet filled diet. I have also found that you can make pasta sub from turnips, blanched then used in a similar fashion to this or use it in very thin sliced circles for filled “wontons’.

    Really stunning that first photo by the way.

  5. Renee Howe

    A girl after my own heart…I love Puttanesca. And what a stunning photo. I love the reflection of the window in the olive. Very beautiful.

  6. Asha

    This looks amazing! I hope I don’t have a duplicate comment here as my first attempt disappeared before I was finished!

    I’ve never thought of using celeriac as a pasta – sounds and looks really good. I love your creative recipes and experimentation with diff veggies like this one:) I think I’ll try this for dinner. I hope my efforts come out 1/10th as pretty as yours!!!!

  7. Jenni

    I love puttanesca! It must be my salt tooth. Gorgeous photos! I’ve actually never used celeriac at home before. Maybe I should branch out! Love your blog, by the way.

  8. Ellen

    Looks stunning and sounds delicious, but do you really think it does serve as a dinner for 4 people? Seems like they are really low cal, low protein, low carb portions, judging the amounts on the list of ingredients. Just curious :)

  9. renee ranjani shuman

    “Celeriac is that knobby, quite frightening-looking root vegetable that you’ve probably passed by in the store a few times thinking “I have no desire to eat an alien’s baby”.” SO TRUE. Although, I know celeriac is actually delicious so I go for it anyway.

  10. Sasha

    From turning celeriac into pasta to making a hilarious comparison between that beast of a root vegetable and what an alien’s baby probably looks like, you’ve done it again!

    I love, love puttanesca sauce and am curious to try it with these celeriac noodles. Quick question – does the sauce do a thorough job of warming up the celeriac? I’m certainly not a fan of cold pasta and so I’m assuming that I’d feel the same about anything filling its role. Do you think that quickly blanching the celeriac or broiling it just enough to heat it would disturb the text of the noodles?

  11. Iren

    It’s almost 11pm and I had a nice, healthy dinner. My belly is nicely full, but I look at your pictures and I read the recipe and I don’t want to go to bed not having tasted this…

    Have to run to the market tomorrow and by an alien’s baby!

    Thanks, dear Sarah!
    Iren

  12. Brita

    Hi Sarah! I love this recipe and all of your amazing creations. Can you tell me a little bit more about why you rarely cook with olive oil? Am I missing something in the literature? I appreciate your insight. Thanks!

  13. Kelly

    Puttanesca is hands down my favourite pasta, my ultimate comfort food. I’m keen to try your version with celeriac, sounds gorgeous!!! Thanks for your continuing inspiration, Sarah!

  14. Aleksandra

    Once again you’ve managed to amaze me with an ingenious combination. Puttanesca is one of my favourites and this just sounds so delicious. I often wonder what else I can do with celeriac during the winter. Know I know! Thanks a lot!!!

  15. Emma

    What a gorgeous dish! I love the flavour of celeriac but would never have thought to eat it like this. The puttanesca looks super rich and flavourful- I can almost taste it!

  16. Amy

    Celeriac is one of my favorite root of all time. Today I have made Celeriac Pasta with Puttanesca Sauce, the taste is so different, I am now going to adventure and experiment more with this wonderful vegetable. Thanks for inspiring us.

  17. C

    Sounds amazing! I love celeriac as noodles. I too have used them as noodles. Chopped them into noodle size peices and quickly blanch them and then made a “cheesy” sauce with sweet potato….it was so good. Like a macaroni and cheese only not. Ha.

    Can’t wait to try this version!

  18. Alana

    Since it’s Thanksgiving, I’m always looking for blogs that will give me plenty of ideas. My friend just told me about “Cooking With Mr. C.” on Facebook (also a blog). I just “Liked” his page. He dedicates November for all Thanksgiving ideas. I was hoping I may find some things on your blog this season too. Alana

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  20. hannah

    I LOVE puttanesca but I’ve not had it since I went vegan and won’t add anchovies.
    This reminds me how excited I am to make your celeriac, butternut, white bean “lasagna” from last year now it’s getting autumnal!

  21. raphael

    Putanesca, great sauce. The original putanesca sauce is non-veg and done with anchovies. This gives the sauce a nica salty flavour and a slight fish smell.
    It could very well be, that those attributes, together with the red meaty tomatoes made the lonely traveller reminisce about hours spend in delectable passion with said ladies of the night..

  22. gala

    I was very surprised to read this post, as if I remember correctly, here is where I learned that olive oil is very bad for cooking…

  23. Kimberley

    I love this – for no doubt inspiring folks to cook with intimidating vegetables, for the genius of celery root noodles (!!!) and for your philosophy around food and eating, which was so perfectly stated here.

  24. M

    I wonder if you talk about oil and cooking with it in detail somewhere… my body composition was very low in fat, so I thought I was doing the right thing to have more oils? Can you really get enough just through eating nuts and other whole foods?
    It would be really good to hear more about how you ensure sufficient intake of necessary nutrients through this alternative diet. I’m doing my best to get it all figured out, but help is good… Thanks!

  25. Kathleen

    Love this recipe and others. But I didn’t actually know how to make Puttenesca and I thought your version would be worth trying. I am working on it now! Thank you!

  26. Jane

    I made a celery root mash with roasted beets on top recently that was fantastic! Love it shaved raw in salads as well. But a question I have had for a while now is what type of coconut oil do you saute with? Refined or not refined? I don’t want to use olive oil, but I don’t want every dish to taste like coconut either and I don’t eat ghee. Thanks!

  27. Anna

    Sarah B–you are the boom boom queen. Made this with rutabaga and zuchz and no mandolin so shaved with a peeler slowly for an hour. worth it. It was, well, BOOM.
    xxoo

  28. Lesley Duke Chen

    This recipe was great. The flavours were wonderful. Thanks Sarah – I enjoy your beautiful blog, food and lovely manner in which you communicate. Keep healthy, love and respect. L

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  30. Pat

    I made this recipe. It is delicious. My suggestion is to put the noodles in with the warm sauce and they loosen up a bit. This is a very satisfying meal. The sauce is absolutely delicious.

  31. Cristin

    Can I ask how your husband got you interested in olives? I love olives, but my husband hates them–he dislikes most super-salty things. What do you recommend?

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  35. Mary

    Just made this and it was amazing even though I didn’t use capers. It was mine and my husband’s first time to try celeriac and it complimented the puttanesca sauce perfectly! So good. As with many other recipes of yours, this will become a staple in our kitchen! Thank you!

  36. Annette

    So yummy! I like to cook and soften the celeriac for a few minutes and then sprinkle nutritional yeast on top. It’s my new favourite dish, perfect for this cold weather!

  37. Lori

    OH MYYYY!!! I made this tonight and was so AMAZED at how good this dish was; I have played a bit with Celeriac in a mashed version and thought, let’s give it another taste test. This was so divine and healthy.. and … Anyhow, onto the next recipe. I added the Celeriac into the sauce for the last five minutes to soften it a bit. Thank you! And most importantly, I figured out to use my mandolin that I have had for over 5 years and have never been able to get it to work right. The stars must be aligned. :)

  38. Bread machine

    Healthy food habits is most important for our well and healthy fitness that help us to live strong. Your delicious food writing concept is really very delightful and precious one look in my eyes. Your entire all of recipe conception is really very handy for me. That helps me a lot to enjoy some delicious and healthy food at my home. I hope most of the people like this food recipe concept like me.

  39. Live Well

    I just made this last night, having never tried to use celeriac as an ingredient before, and it turned out amazing. I loved it. It didn’t quite suite my partner’s palate, but I will definitely be making this again whenever I have a hankering for pasta, but want to avoid the empty carbohydrates.

    I just discovered your blog and am smitten! Thank you!!

  40. Maria

    Congratulations. Such a special time for all three of you. I love how you recreated the picture from your last post. Enjoy!

  41. Theadmag

    It’s no big surprise that I adore Sarah and her work. I often share her recipes as they showcase real wholesome food and a beautiful example that healthy food is in no way boring.

  42. Katie W

    I do not know if I missed this in the directions but does the celeriac pasta get cooked in boiling water or is it severed as is?

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