Let’s take a minute to talk about celery…
…that’s right, you heard me, celery!
This understated plant of the Apium genus is constantly overlooked. However, it’s actually the flavorful foundation to some of your favorite dishes, from bolognese and ragus to soups and savory pies. And thankfully, celery really shines in the winter season.
During the pandemic, I couldn’t help but notice that people panic-bought a ton of different ingredients from the produce aisle; and yet, a plethora of celery remained! Why might that be? It turns out, many people aren’t sure how to use it in their everyday cooking. So, let’s talk about this humble vegetable and why you should buy it the next time you’re at the grocery store.
What You Should Know
Celery is actually a superfood that combats inflammation, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Unfortunately, companies exploit that attribute. Self-proclaimed food fitness companies purchase a large portion of this produce and blend it into oblivion to make “healthy” juice. On the upside, at least someone is buying it, but would you like your porterhouse blended up and turned into juice?! I think not. And yes… I just compared celery to a porterhouse.
It also turns out that there’s more variety in celery than you might realize, from your everyday cultivar like “Pascal” to heirloom assortments like ‘Giant Red’. Don’t be fooled! To the untrained eye, this one could look like rhubarb with its beautiful red stalk. It reminds me of the violet, crimson hue from a red onion. I’ll be honest: I haven’t cooked with many types of celery, but I’m inspired to give it a go, and I hope you’ll join me in experimenting with them.
Make Celery the Star of the Show
So, how can you cook with celery more? Here’s some exciting ways to integrate it into your meals. Watch this space, as I’ll be turning these ideas into recipes in the coming weeks.
- Poach celery in dashi and ginger, then grill it hard and fast giving it a nice char.
- Roast stalks with caraway and olive oil, chop it up, and fold it into a grain salad (check out my grain salad recipe for some inspiration).
- Make a gratinated celeriac with butter, garlic and parmesan.
Aside from these exciting ways to use celery, it should be a staple in any kitchen for your mise-en-place to bring flavor to sauces and stocks. All in all, this seemingly simple vegetable deserves some respect and should be cooked as such. It is so versatile, and the more we use produce of the season, the better the impact on the environment. Let’s get cooking!