Nom de plume of Francine Wolfe Schwartz
Taken for granted on raw vegetable platters, stuffed with pimento cheese or just part of the aromatic team in sauces, soups or stews celery is often dismissed and pushed to the back of the vegetable bin to wilt. But once sautéed or braised celery sweetens becomes more a star rather than a team player.
When looking for celery recipes don’t be confused with celery root (celeriac). In person, there’s no mistaking the two. Celery is bright green in contrast to celery root’s knobby and “dirty” brown appearance.
Celery should be stored unwashed tightly wrapped in a clean cotton towel or paper toweling then sealed in a plastic bag stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Best to use in about 2 weeks. For extra crisp celery store upright in a container of water tented with a plastic bag. When you’re ready to use a piece, wash well under cool water. If desired remove “strings” with a vegetable peeler. Don’t throw away the flavorful leaves. Finely chop and add to salads or use in recipes.
Bunch, stalk or rib that is the question. Confusing, yes? Even “expert” culinary sources describe the entire celery differently. Some say bunch and some say stalk. Even more confusing a piece of celery may be called a rib or stalk. Your best bet is to look closely at the recipe noting the amount. Generally if it’s the entire celery “bunch” (or stalk) pounds will be noted. If the amount is about 1/2 cup diced or sliced you can be assured you’ll be using 1 individual piece whether you call it a rib or stalk.
I see it as stalk and rib. How about you?
Braised Celery with Lemon Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups celery, cut in 1-inch pieces, cut on the diagonal (about 6 ribs)
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 large lemon, juiced
1/4 cup dry white wine or apple juice
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
2 tablespoons celery leaves finely chopped
freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium sized saucepan (with lid). Add onion sauté until soft and translucent about 4 minutes. Add garlic and celery sauté 3-5 minutes. Add stock, cover. Reduce heat to low and cook until celery is just tender about 10-12 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, remove celery to a serving dish.
Add lemon juice and wine. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer about 5 minutes or until liquid is reduced to about 1/2 cup. If desired add butter stirring until melted.
Pour sauce over celery. Sprinkle with chopped celery leaves and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve warm or room temperature.