If you think that this dish looks quite festive, wait till you try it. It is an orchestral feast in the mouth, lending a delightful combination of contrasting flavours and textures that somehow complement each other and come together brilliantly. The earthiness and warmth of the caramelised onion and parsley root, the crisp sweetness of the pomegranate, the toasted almond slivers and the freshness of the basil, all coated in a creamy gravy, simply wonderful!
Caramelised Onion & Parsley Root Penne With Pomegranate Seeds, Slivered Almonds & Fresh Basil
500g wholemeal penne pasta (or any pasta of your choice)
4 white onions, thinly sliced
4 parsley roots, peeled and thinly sliced*
1 tsp vegan butter
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp veggie stock powder
250g white mushrooms, wiped and sliced
1 cup Marsala wine, divided
200ml plant based single cream
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 a cup plant based unsweetened milk
1 1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
1/2 a cup of finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup slivered almonds
Start with the caramelising, as it takes longer. In a large pan, add a little water and a tbsp of veggie stock powder and sauté the onions (reserving a few rings for the gravy) and parsley roots over medium high heat, stirring frequently. When they become translucent add the maple syrup, the butter and half a cup of Marsala wine to deglaze the pan and continue to cook until sticky and golden. The whole process should take about 25-30 minutes.
While the onions are cooking, prepare the gravy. In a medium sauce pan, add the reserved onions, the sliced mushrooms, 1 tbsp of veggie stock powder and a little water. Sauté until all liquid has evaporated. Add half a cup of Marsala wine, the cream, the soy sauce and the milk and bring to a boil. Transfer to a blender and process until very smooth and creamy. Return to the pan and adjust seasonings to your liking.
Cook the pasta according to package instructions and lightly toast the almond slivers on a small dry frying pan.
To assemble the dish, drain the pasta, return to the pan and mix in the creamy gravy. Spoon in the caramelised onions and parsley roots and stir to combine. Add the chopped parsley and basil, reserving a little for sprinkling over the individual plates. Mix in most of the pomegranate seeds, again reserving a few for decoration. Finally, serve in bowls and top with your toasted almonds and your sprinkles.
*If you can’t get your hands on parsley root, you can use celeriac root or parsnips instead. Parsley root is a wonderful root vegetable. If you do come across it, please give it a go. It looks like a cross between a parsnip and a white carrot, but its taste is sweet and resembles the flavour of its well known leaves.
It is also a highly nutritious vegetable, packed with nutrients and antioxidants such as myristicin, apiol and vitamin C. These powerful components help fight inflammation, protect against chronic diseases, including cancer and help detoxify the liver.