This may change the way you view celeriac…
12 oz dry spaghetti or other pasta (about 3 c)
1 T olive oil
1 large celeriac, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
salt and pepper, to taste
1 T fresh thyme leaves or 1 t dried thyme leaves; or tarragon, oregano, dill, sage…
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 fresh red chile, minced; or 1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 T unsalted butter or use 2 T more oil
minced fresh parsley, for garnish, optional
grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, to taste
1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil for the pasta.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the celeriac along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté until the celeriac has begun to color, then add the thyme leaves, garlic, and chile and continue to cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Add about 1/2 cup of hot water to the skillet (dip into the pasta water for this), cover, and turn the heat to low. Simmer until the celeriac is tender, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding more hot water if the liquid is almost evaporated. Once tender, mash the celeriac with a potato masher or wooden spoon to create a coarse purée. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until almost al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining, then add the pasta to the purée along with some of the pasta cooking water. Cook on low, adding pasta water as needed, until the pasta is al dente. Finish with 2 T butter or 2 T oil, then serve, garnished with fresh parsley, if using, and grated cheese.