It may seem odd to think about caramelized celery as an ingredient in linguine, let alone an ingredient for any dish, but if you love celery and want to experience it in a new direction, this is the dish for you! Imagine al dente linguine coated in a rich sauce, loaded with every dimension of flavor in celery, from the freshness of the leaves, to the bitterness of the seed, and the unexpected sweetness of the caramelized celery itself adding a burst of flavor in every bite. It’s a beautiful balance of sweet and savory that will leave you craving more.
Where did I come up with such a weird idea like Caramelized Celery?
Last week’s Portlandia episode was all about how celery has fallen behind a lot of other new “buzz” veggies like brussel sprouts, kale, and cauliflower, and how Steve Buscemi, the celery rep, was trying to get celery back on the map. I always love Portlandia, but when they make fun of food culture it makes me laugh even more. I decided to take this celery issue into my own hands and try and make a trendy blogger type dish with celery.
My trendy blogger style dish was to make a “stuffed” celery with the core. I took notes from stuffed artichokes and spread out the ribs, stuffing them with blue cheese. It was a total disaster and tasted awful!
I was back to the drawing board but when I made that first dish some of the edges were burnt and it gave me the idea that caramelized celery would taste really good and that’s where this simple caramelized Celery Linguine dish was born.
Cooking the celery
Slow cook the celery in some butter like you would do for onions. It might seem like a lot of celery at first but it shrinks down a ton!
Oh man! Caramelized celery! It kind of looks like bugs! This actually tasted really good though. It brings out some of the anise notes in celery, but in a subtle sweet way, not an aggressive bad way.
This also had a nice meaty texture which is perfect for a vegetarian pasta like this.
Making the sauce for the linguine
Once the celery is fully caramelized, add in some garlic, and a can of tomatoes. I also added a cup of celery juice to the sauce, as well as to the pasta cooking liquid. We are on the way to enjoying Caramelized Celery Linguine!
When the pasta is cooked, add it to the pot with the sauce and stir to combine. Add in a little of the cooking liquid as well. The cooking liquid is green because there is celery juice in there too!
Finally remove from heat and stir in some cheese and the celery leaves. The parmesan cheese will help thicken the sauce and the celery leaves add a fantastic freshness to the final dish!
Really really good pasta! A sprinkle of celery salt brings everything together.
Variations on Caramelized Celery Linguine
This would be good with meat too. I would suggest some Italian sausage but go really light with it! I would say maybe 1/4 pound would add a really nice flavor but not overpower the delicious celery flavors. You can cook the sausage in the pan before adding the celery, then remove it from the pan and set it aside. Keep the fat in the pan and add the butter and celery. Follow the remaining steps the same, but add the cooked sausage back in when you add the tomatoes.
Caramelized Celery Linguine
- 1 whole head of celery with tops
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups celery juice
- 1 tablespoon celery salt
- 1 pound pasta
- 2 cloves garlic
- 14 oz can diced tomato
- 1/4 cup cream
- 1/2 cup grated parm
- pinch celery salt
- Gather all the leaves from the celery head and roughly chop them. Set aside. cut off the base of the celery head and discard. Chop the rest of the celery into small half circles.
- Add the butter to a large pan over medium heat and add in the celery. Cook for about 35 minutes until deeply browned, adjusting the heat as needed to not burn.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and stir in 1 tablespoon of celery salt and 1 cup of celery juice. Drop the pasta in the pot and stir.
- Add the garlic to the caramelized celery and cook 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, remaining celery juice, and cream, and bring to a light simmer.
- When the pasta is al dente, reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Strain the pasta and add it directly to the sauce.
- stir about 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water into the pan with the pasta. Add more if needed but 1/2 cup is probably enough. Cook for about 2 minutes until everything is nicely combined and the sauce has slightly thickened.
- Remove from heat and stir in the parmesan cheese and celery leaves. Serve