Celery Recipes

Share

Celery recipes typically focus on celery as an adjunct to a dish. But celery is much more versatile in the kitchen than many people realize. The classic way to eat celery is as a stick or chopped into a salad, relish, stew or soup. Celery is a mainstay for Waldorf or potato salad. It’s a great vehicle for stuffing with egg, cream cheese, tuna or chicken salad or to scoop up dips. Real cream of celery soup will make a huge difference in those recipes that expect you to open a can. Try some of these celery recipes and I expect you’ll come away with a new appreciation for those green stalks.

Celery Salad

  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped olives, green or black
  • 1/4 cup sliced radishes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine or cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Mix dressing ingredients well, pour over vegetables.

Celery-Pear Salad

  • 4 stalks celery, trimmed and cut in half crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons cider, pear, raspberry or other fruit vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ripe pears, preferably red Bartlett or Anjou, diced
  • 1 cup finely diced white cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 6 large leaves butterhead or other lettuce

Soak celery in a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Whisk vinegar, honey and salt in a large bowl until blended. Add pears; gently stir to coat. Add the celery, cheese and pecans; stir to combine. Season with pepper. Divide the lettuce leaves among 6 plates and top with a portion of salad. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Eastern Chinese Celery Salad

  • 1 bunch celery
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsps soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsps sesame oil

Mix all ingredients but celery. Discard roots, cut celery into small diagonal pieces; blanch 1 minute. Drain, pour dressing over and chill.

Cream of Celery Soup, Version I

  • 1 lb fresh celery or celery root (celeriac)
  • 1 medium Russet (or other starchy) potato
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 qt vegetable stock
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Ground white pepper, to taste

Cut celery into (roughly) same-sized pieces, about ½ inch to 1 inch thick, depending on diameter. Peel the potato and cut it into pieces about the same size as the celery. In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, heat the butter over low-to-medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and celery and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the onion is slightly translucent, stirring more or less continuously. Add the wine and cook for another minute or two or until the wine seems to have reduced by about half. Add the stock and the potato. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the celery and potatoes are soft enough that they can easily be pierced with a knife. Remove from heat and purée in a blender, working in batches if necessary.

Cream of Celery Soup, Version II

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cups very finely chopped good quality, flavorful celery (about 5 large stalks)
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1½ cups good quality chicken broth
  • 1½ cups cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and cook the onions, celery and garlic until soft and translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add the chicken broth and cream and stir until the mixture is smooth. Increase the heat and bring it to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium, add the remaining ingredients, and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Add salt to taste. If using as a base for other recipes, this soup will keep in the fridge for at least 3-4 days.

Celery Gratin

  • 8 medium celery stalks
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¾ cup, grated cheddar or jack cheese
  • 1/3 cup broth¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Slice the celery sticks in half across the center, then add the celery to a large pan of boiling water and simmer for 4-5 minutes until just tender. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Drain the celery and arrange in an oven proof dish. Add the cream, ½ cup of cheese, stock, salt and pepper to a small pan over a low/medium heat. Stir to combine and cook gently until the cheese has melted and the sauce has thickened and reduced slightly. Pour the cheese sauce over the celery sticks. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Transfer to the oven to bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.

Celery Crunch Salad

  • 8 stalks celery with leaves
  • 1 granny smith apple
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled (also good with Cheddar)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, almonds or walnuts
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 green onion, chopped; use both greens and whites
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 heaping tbsp Dijon mustard
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar – optional

Wash and chop celery into 1/4 inch slices. Place in a large salad bowl. Wash apple and cut into matchstick-thin slices. Add to bowl. Chop fresh parsley and add to bowl. Add in blue cheese, chopped pecans and green onions. In a separate bowl mix mustard, vinegar and lemon juice. Drizzle in olive oil while whisking. Add salt and pepper and mix until fully incorporated. If you prefer a sweeter dressing, add sugar. Drizzle dressing over the top of salad.

Stuffed Celery

  • 4 celery sticks
  • 8 teaspoons cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon everything bagel seasoning

Wash and trim the ends of the celery. Spread about 2 teaspoons of cream cheese on each celery stick. Sprinkle the everything bagel seasoning over the cream cheese.

Sauteed Celery

  • 1 head celery, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 oz butter
  • medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 oz carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chicken stock (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper

Melt the butter in the frying pan and cook the onions for 3-4 minutes over a medium to high heat, until lightly golden, then add the carrots and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add celery and continue to fry for 5 minutes more, or until everything is slightly browned at the edges. Season with salt and black pepper. You can serve at this point or pour in the hot stock and place a lid on the pan. Turn the heat down and simmer gently for 5 minutes, until the vegetables are almost tender, then take the lid off. Increase the heat to medium and continue to simmer till the liquid has reduced and become slightly syrupy – about 5 minutes. Serve the celery with the juices poured over and sprinkled with the parsley.

Share
Posted in Food, Recipes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Growing Celery

Share

Growing celery seems to be something that many gardeners just don’t bother with. It’s fussy about water, takes a long time to mature and is readily available at the grocery. But home-grown celery, like many kitchen garden plants, is worth the effort.

The celery plant has a long history, first as a medicinal mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey, circa 850 BC. It was developed from a plant native to the marshy areas in the Mediterranean called smallage. Smallage had a much stronger flavor than the modern version and the stalks were smaller and shorter. It was used primarily as a flavoring agent until the 17th century, when gardeners and plant breeders began working to improve the wild plant. In addition, there is a root form of the plant called celeriac and leaf celery – similar to smallage – that is used as a flavoring agent.

Growing Celery in My Garden

Celery was once one of the few plants I didn’t try to grow. I thought it was too hot in my area. In this case my biases got in the way of my gardening, since it turns out I can grow celery. If I’m growing celery from seed, I start really early, as in about three months before the last frost. Seeds can take up to two weeks to germinate (which is one reason I failed at celery in the past – no patience!). Those plants are usually out of the ground before the heat really gets going. Even if they’re not, as long as I keep it well-watered and grow it in a shady bed, I can have summer celery.

I can also get a second planting from each celery head: cut off the base and keep it in about an inch of water for 10 days, then plant out in the garden when roots appear. This is much more my style than the seedling routine, as it means celery in about two months instead of four or five. Finally, I can start some seeds about July and let them develop in the cooler fall.

Celery will also winter over quite nicely, although it will go to seed the second year. If you want celery that’s more like the grocery variety, blanch it for about two weeks prior to harvest by wrapping it with strips of cloth, cardboard or something similar. Unblanched celery has a stronger flavor (sometimes even a little bitter), and in my experience the stalks are also smaller. However, unblanched celery has more nutrients, and the stronger flavor is fine for soups and stews.

Celery Nutrition

Celery has anti-inflammatory effects, which makes it a good choice for anybody with a condition like arthritis. The plant provides riboflavin, vitamin, A, C, K and B6, pantothenic acid, calcium, magnesium, folate, potassium and manganese and phosphorus, and has lots of fiber. It’s also relatively high in sodium, which gives dietitians the collywobbles because they think we should limit sodium in the diet. I say ignore the dietitians and eat the celery.

Storing Celery

William Woys Weaver notes that before the days of reliable refrigeration, celery was still stored through the winter. The plants were dug before frost, roots trimmed and green tops cut off. Then the plants were packed in dry sand and kept in a cool, dry place. If your winter temperatures run in the 30s and 40s, you can dig the plants and trench them in an unheated greenhouse. In mild climates you can also try overwintering celery. Come spring, these plants will develop seed stalks. At that point the celery is very strong and tends to be stringy. Harvest the seed for next year’s crop or for seasoning, and pull the plants for the chickens or pigs. I also like to dry the leaves to make celery salt or an herbal salt blend.

Celery Varieties

  • Golden Self-Blanching is an heirloom variety introduced in 1886. It’s a good celery for storage, and as the name implies, doesn’t need to be blanched (for color purposes, anyway; blanching may make it sweeter). It’s a good one for fall harvest.
  • Pascal Giant/Giant Pascal was introduced in 1890. It was developed in France and is a descendant of Golden Self-Blanching, with good, thick, light green stems. All celery varieties need plenty of water, but this one in particular is sensitive to lack of moisture and will quickly become hollow-stemmed. Best as an early fall crop.
  • Utah was released in 1953 by Ferry Morse; it’s a typical celery. It had probably been grown for a much longer period, as the American Fork area of Utah was settled in 1850. Celery and sugar beets were the two major crops in the area. By the 1930s, celery became dominant as soil nematodes caused havoc in sugar beet crops. These varieties don’t need to be blanched and will be sweet if grown correctly (which usually means grown as a fall crop). Tall Utah is a more recent selection, but very similar.
  • Tendercrisp is another modern though open-pollinated variety. Bred by Ferry-Morse, it was released in 1969. It has more resistance to boron and magnesium deficiencies than most celery and is also tolerant of western celery mosaic virus.
Share
Posted in Farms, Food | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Preserving Summer Squash

Share

Preserving summer squash is easy. And since they are so productive, you can put a lot of food on the pantry shelf from just a few plants. Summer squash are full of water. That means they don’t freeze or can well, because they turn to mush. the extra water content does help make them easy to use in relish. Surprisingly, they dehydrate quite well, and zucchini chips are pretty tasty. Grated summer squash, on the other hand, freezes very well and can also be dehydrated.

Cultured Zucchini Relish

  • 2 medium small zucchini, grated
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1/2 sweet red pepper, chopped fine
  • 1 medium-sized red onion, chopped fine
  • 1 daikon radish, halved lengthwise and then chopped in 1/8 inch slices, optional
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp. sea salt
  • 1 grape or oak leaf to maintain crispness (optional)

Mix all ingredients except the leaf in a bowl. Let sit 5 minutes. Press the vegetables for 5 minutes or so by pressing down with a potato masher to assist with release of liquid from the vegetables; there should be a fair amount of liquid in the bowl. The liquid must cover the vegetables once placed in the jar so be sure not to skip this step. Place the leaf in the bottom of a glass quart-sized mason jar (wide-mouth jar is best so that the weight fits in). Spoon vegetable mix into the jar and be sure to pour all liquid into the jar also. Use another smaller jar that fits inside the quart mason jar to act as a weight and keep the vegetables down beneath the liquid. Be sure to leave at least an inch of air space at the top of the jar so that as the veggies ferment and bubble out gases the liquid doesn’t overflow the jar–press the weight down every day to help release the gas bubbles. Put a lid loosely on the jar or cover it with a towel held in place with a rubber band. Leave at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. Depending on how warm it is, the fermentation time will vary so taste the mixture every day. It is ready when it has a tangy taste and smell. At that point move to the refrigerator for long-term storage.

Lacto-Fermented Dilled Zucchini Relish

  • 3 medium zucchini, grated
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • Handful of fresh dill, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • Oak, grape, or mesquite leaves, optional

Combine all ingredients except the leaves in a medium bowl and gently pound with potato masher for a few minutes, until a brine begins to form. Transfer all ingredients to a quart jar and press down to allow brine to come up above vegetables, leaving 1-1/2 inches of headspace. Place leaves on top of vegetables followed by a weight to keep the vegetables submerged. Place lid on quart jar, followed by airlock if using. Allow to ferment for 3 to 10 days at room temperature. If not using an airlock, “burp” jar every day for the first few days to allow gases to escape. Transfer to cold storage once it is tangy and bubbly to suit your taste.

Fermented Zucchini Relish

  • 6 cups grated zucchini
  • ½ of a red or white onion, thinly sliced or diced
  • 1 Tbsp fine salt or 1.5 Tbsp coarse salt
  • 1-2 tbsp pickling spice
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 grated carrots
  • Optional: hot peppers like jalapenos

Prep vegetables as noted above, adding to a large bowl to mix. Add salt and spices, gently tossing to combine. Stuff into clean jars, leaving an inch or more of head space at the top. Clean the rim of the jar and weigh down the veggies with a smaller jar, pressing down so that the brine covers the grated veggies. Cover with clean cloth and secure with rubber band. Leave this semi-open vessel on the countertop. Ambient room temps are fine, if it is quite hot in your kitchen move the jars to ferment in a cooler space. The jars may bubble over the next few days, so check them and skim any foam that appears. This helps prevent mold formation. You can check the relish by tasting it at any time, just replace the weight. Within 4-7 days, it will be as tangy as you like it. Then you can put a lid on it and refrigerate.

Canned Zucchini Relish

  • 2 cups shredded or chopped zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup sweet green pepper
  • 1/2 cup sweet red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar

Chop the peppers and onions. Shred the zucchini. Place the vegetables in a very large bowl. Sprinkle with the 2 tablespoons of salt. Fill the bowl with cool water until the vegetables are completely covered. Let stand 2 hours. Drain the vegetables and rinse thoroughly with water. Combine the sugar, celery seed, mustard seed, and vinegar in a large saucepan or stockpot. Add the chopped vegetables. Bring all ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle the hot zucchini relish into jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of the jar. Process the jars of canned zucchini relish in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. Makes four half-pints. This canning recipe may easily be doubled, tripled or quadrupled.

Lemon Dill Zucchini Chips

  • 3-4 medium zucchini
  • ½ to 1 tablespoon fresh dill
  • 2 lemons (juiced)
  • ¼ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt (or to taste)

Slice zucchini very thinly by hand or with a mandoline. Put the sliced zucchini into a bowl and add the dill, lemon juice and himalayan pink salt. Toss until all zucchini slices are covered with the lemon juice mixture. Spread the zucchini out evenly on a mesh tray in a dehydrator. Dehydrate at 115° F for 10 – 12 hours or until crispy.

Zucchini Garlic Chips

  • 2 medium zucchinis
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • Pinch of salt

Preheat an oven to 200°F. Use a mandoline to thinly slice zucchinis into 1/8 inch slices. If cutting by hand, try to ensure slices are the same width. In a large bowl, toss sliced zucchini with all other ingredients. Use your hands to press dill/vinegar mixture onto each individual slice. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly spray with cooking spray and add zucchini chips individually spaced. You may need 2 baking sheets. Add to preheated oven and bake for 2-2.5 hours, or until crisp and very lightly gold in spots. If cutting zucchini by hand, make sure to watch the oven closely towards the end as some slices may need to be removed from the oven before others.

Zucchini and Lemon Jam

  • 2 ¼ pounds zucchini, topped and tailed, and cut into ¼ inch dice
  • 2 ¼ pounds granulated sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp finely shredded lemon verbena leaves (optional)

Put the zucchini into a preserving pan with the sugar and lemon zest. Stir and leave overnight to macerate. Pour in 1 cup water and warm over medium heat, stirring until any remaining sugar crystals have dissolved. Pour in the lemon juice, stir and bring to the boil. Boil until the setting point is reached, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in lemon verbena if using and cool for 10 minutes, then pour into jars and store in refrigerator. You can also preserve by canning as you would any other jam, but the flavor won’t be anywhere near as good.

Super Easy and Delicious Zucchini Butter

  • 2 pounds zucchini, more or less
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or butter, if you prefer
  • 2 minced shallots, garlic, or combination of both
  • Salt and pepper

Coarsely grate the zucchini. Let it drain in a colander for 3 to 4 minutes or until you are ready to begin cooking. To hasten cooking time, squeeze the water out of the zucchini by wringing it in a clean cloth towel. In a deep skillet, heat the olive oil/butter. Sauté the shallots briefly. Add the zucchini and toss. Cook and stir over medium to medium-high heat until the zucchini reaches a spreadable consistency. If you scorch the bottom, turn the flame down! (And scrape those delicious bits into the marmalade for added flavor.) The zucchini will hold its bright green color and slowly caramelize into a nice vegetable jam. Store in the refrigerator. Enjoy on toast or as a side dish all summer long!

Frozen Summer Squash

  • Harvest summer squash, any size. Even the three-footers – don’t be embarrassed, it happens to all of us.
  • Wash well in clear cold water. I like to use a vegetable scrubbing brush.
  • Set up the food processor with the large grater blade.
  • Cut off the ends of the squash and cut crosswise into chunks about 4 or 5 inches long.
  • Cut the squash chunks lengthwise in quarters, sixths, eights or whatever is a good size to fit in the feed tube of your food processor. Don’t bother to remove seeds unless the squash is truly huge and the seeds have started to get hard.
  • Shove them in until the bowl is full. Sometimes I mix yellows and greens, sometimes I keep them separate.
  • Stop the food processor and fill plastic Ziplock freezer bags (or whatever your preferred container is) with two cups each of processed squash. I like the bags because it’s easy to compress the air out and stuff multiple bags in a bigger Ziplock freezer bag, which protects them from freezer burn and means I don’t have to search for lots of small bags in the depths of the freezer. It also means I only have to label one bag, the big one. Two cups is a good size for most recipes, but if you’re only cooking for one, you can use one cup per bag. I don’t generally use plastic anything for food storage, but this is one occasion when I make an exception. Glass jars don’t work well because by the time the squash defrosts enough to get it out, it’s turned to mush. The other thing is that grated veggies like these are particularly prone to freezer burn. Being able to get all the air out improves the keeping qualities, so this is one of the few things I freeze in Ziplock bags.
  • Repeat until you run out of squash.Put them in the freezer. They’ll keep for at least 12 months.
  • To use frozen summer squash: Take the bag out of the freezer and let the squash defrost at room temperature (don’t microwave). Pour off and save the water until you’re done with your recipe. You may want to add a little if a batter or dough looks dry. If you’re making soup, just add it to the soup.
Share
Posted in Food, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment