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Author Notes: Here is my way to snick in a healthy vegetable to everybody’s favorite rich comfort food dish. Simmering in milk brings the very best out of celery root, giving this silky puree a flavor that's both mellow and full, which also blends in perfectly to the Fontina cheese sauce.
Parsnips or Turnips could be used in the puree instead of Celery Root. - Kukla
Serves 4 to 6
- • 8 oz dry Rigatoni pasta
- • 4 cups whole milk, divided
- • 2 cups water
- • coarse salt
- • 1 large celery root (about 1 1/2 pounds total), peeled, cut into 2-inch cubes
- • 1 small onion or 2 shallots, diced
- • 6 tablespoons butter, cut into 6 pieces
- • 2 tablespoons flour
- • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- • Ground white pepper
- • 1 teaspoon Herb de Provence
- • 1 1/2 cups Italian Fontina Cheese, shredded on the large side of grater
- • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- • 2 tablespoons Panko bread crumbs
- Bring 2 cups milk, water and salt just to boil in heavy saucepan over high heat. Add celery root cubes; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain, discard cooking liquid.
- Combine celery root and 2 tablespoons butter in a food processor; puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Transfer puree to bowl, grate the nutmeg over it and mix in. Set aside.
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a pan, add Herb de Provence, sauté for 2 minutes and then add diced onion.
- Sauté until softened and just start to brown; sift the flour directly over the butter; stir to make a smooth paste and cook out the raw flour taste (about 3 minutes). Slowly add remaining 2 cups milk.
- Simmer on a low heat stirring or whisking all the time until sauce thickens, about 5 to 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove sauce from the stove, add the Fontina cheese.
- Add the pureed celery root; stir quickly and well. Keep warm.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. F. Butter a casserole or glass baking dish. Cook Rigatoni al dente, in a large pot with boiling, salted water.
- Drain and immediately add to the cheese and celery root mixture. Mix well and then pour into prepared baking dish. Spread evenly, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and Panko bread crumbs.
- Dot with pieces of the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. (At this point, you might cool the whole dish, then chill it and bake it later or even freeze up to 3-4 days).
- When ready to bake; place on the middle rack of the oven; bake for about 45minutes until bubbly and the top is golden brown. Serve hot.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Root Vegetable Side