According to my Grower's Market book, celeriac is 'an unpromising-looking brute of a vegetable'. That description strikes me as a tad unfair, given that few root vegetables would win first prize in a beauty contest, but I see what the writer is getting at. Celeriac does look brutish, in some ways; it looks tough, in any case, butch and uncompromising, compared with, say, the sylph-like grace of an asparagus tip or the subtle prettiness of purple sprouting broccoli. Yet celeriac is far less scary than it looks - it makes wonderful mash, for instance, and it works well roasted, too. I hadn't tried it as a filling for ravioli until yesterday, in fact, I'd never have considered it until I saw the idea in Jamie's book, but then, we've only been making our own ravioli since August so we are still relative novices, with countless potential ravioli fillings left to try out.
This time, the pasta was made with pureed spinach as well as with eggs and flour. I used baby spinach and cooked it very briefly before pureeing it; larger-leafed spinach leaves would have been cooked for longer and yielded a stronger colour, but I was using what I had.
The filling is made as follows: for enough for four people, cook diced celeriac with thyme leaves, seasoning and a little olive oil on a high heat until the celeriac has some colour, then turn the heat down to medium and add chopped garlic and chilli, cooking for another 3 or 4 minutes. Add boiling water, cover the pan and cook on a low heat for 20-25 minutes, untl the celeriac is soft and the water has evaporated. Smash the celeriac up with a potato masher and cool before filling the pasta.
At this stage, we cheated. Jamie stipulates raviolini, not ravioli, but we were hungry and time was marching on, so we made it into ravioli instead, which is quicker.
I should pause at this moment and say that when we bought the pasta machine (a manual Imperia one) there was a flicker of doubt in my mind as to how often we would use it. I know some people with pasta makers use them once and then effectively consign them to the Gadget Graveyard and I hoped we wouldn't. I can safely say that it was worth its weight in gold. I love fresh homemade pasta (that so-called 'fresh pasta' sold in the supermarkets bears no resemblance to it) and Jamie's recipes for it are inventive and tasty. I am not an experimental cook - I follow recipes, don't make them up myself - but I think I will start inventing fillings for ravioli, which may or may not work! This ravioli, though, was delicious, a pleasure to eat - and a funky colour to boot.