HOME / CELERY RECIPES
By Ruth Butters
Celery is a delicious, nutritious, and surprisingly versatile vegetable. Its juicy, crunchy texture makes it a popular choice for raw vegetable plates and salads, and its uniquely salty taste adds flavor to many recipes. But celery is more than a crunchy snack or add-in; it stands on its own as the star ingredient in many scrumptious dishes.
Start by purchasing the best celery available. For optimum flavor and texture, look for medium-sized stalks that are firm, crispy, and light green in color. The larger, darker green stalks tend to be tougher and stringier.
Avoid celery bunches that have limp or wilted stalks - a sure sign that the celery is past its peak of freshness - and stay away from bunches that have bruised stalks.
Celery should be promptly refrigerated. It will keep for about a week.
To prepare celery for cooking, rinse well under cold running water to remove any residual sand or dirt that may have been trapped between the stalks.
Trim off the tough bottom where the stalk was attached to the bunch, and cut off the leaves but don't throw them away! The leaves are high in both nutrients and flavor and can be added to soups, stews, and casseroles.
When celery is cooked the flesh softens, but the "strings" that are prominent on the outside of the stalk remain intact. If you don't want the strings to be part of your finished dish, simple strip them away from the stalk before cooking.
Celery tends to lose color when cooked. This is the result of a completely natural chemical reaction that occurs when the chlorophyll and acids in the plant interact in the presence of heat and it has no effect on flavor. However if you want keep the color bright and vibrant, cooking celery quickly in plenty of water will help.
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Celery: It's More Than Just Crunch
By Ruth Butters
How do you think of celery?
a. It's the crunchy stuff in a tuna salad.
b. It's something dieters eat to take their minds off the fact that they can't have pizza.
c. It's just a crispy container for scooping up dip.
If you answered yes to any of the above, think again. Celery is more than just a tasty and filling snack; it's an amazingly versatile ingredient that's good raw or cooked, and adds to all kinds of dishes. It's also a low-calorie, high fiber dietary powerhouse that's packed with beneficial nutrients.
Celery has been shown to lower blood pressure, neutralize stomach acid, reduce inflammation, and act as a natural laxative. Some people even consider it to be mildly aphrodisiac. How's that's for a reason to crunch a stalk or two?
The Apium graveolens or celery plant has been a dietary staple all over the world for millennia; celery leaves were found in the tomb of Tutankhamen, and it is repeatedly mentioned in ancient Greek literature. Its medicinal use is documented as far back as the year 30 AD, when it was listed as a component of a pill intended for pain relief.
Celery grows readily in temperate climates and is an economical use of planting space, as virtually the entire plant is edible. In addition to the celery stalks, the root is sold as celeriac and even the seeds are used for adding potent flavor to soups, stews, and other cooked foods.
The Chemistry Behind the Crunch
Celery is an excellent source of a number of vitamins and minerals. The leaves are high in vitamin A, and the stalks deliver vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C. Celery is also a good source of calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and sodium.
While some of the health claims for celery are less fact than folklore - for example, the idea that it functions as an aphrodisiac is scientifically unfounded - others have been proven by research.
- A University of Chicago study showed that celery lowers blood pressure because it contains a compound called Phthalide, which dilates blood vessels.
- Celery's diuretic properties can be traced to its combination of sodium and potassium.
- The high fiber content of celery makes it a valuable aid in weight reduction because it creates a feeling of fullness without adding extra calories, and the high fiber content also makes it an effective natural laxative.
- Celery seeds contain high levels of calcium, which contributes to overall health in a variety of ways ranging from bone strength to mental clarity and immune support.
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Recipes by Ruth Butters
Versatile Celery Casserole
- 4 cups (about 10 - 12 large ribs) of celery cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 1 stick of butter or margarine
- 1 can of water chestnuts or 1/2 cup of slivered blanched almonds
- 1/4 cup diced pimento (optional)
- 3 slices of bread, OR 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
Boil the celery in salted water till barely tender (about 5 - 8 minutes).
Drain and put in casserole dish.
Add half the butter or margarine while the celery is still hot and allow it to melt, stirring occasionally.
Add the soup, water chestnuts or almonds, pimentos if desired, and salt and pepper to taste.
In a separate pan, melt the remaining butter and add the crumbled bread or dried breadcrumbs.
Saute briefly, tossing to coat completely.
Sprinkle the coated crumbs over the top of the celery mixture in the casserole dish and bake uncovered in a moderate over (350 degrees) for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the mixture is hot and bubbly and the crumbs are golden brown.
Celery-Apple Matchstick Salad Dijon
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise (regular, lite, or fat-free)
- 1 tbsp Dijon-style mustard
- 1 tsp cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp sugar or 1/2 packet of artificial sweetener
- 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 - 6 celery ribs cut into 1-1/2" matchsticks
- 1 tart apple (any tart apple will work, including "baking apple" varieties) cut into 1-1/2" matchsticks.
- 1/2 up dried cranberries or currants (optional)
Mix the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, sugar or sweetener, and tarragon together in a medium large bowl and whisk till smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper (NOTE: go light on the salt at first, as the celery will add some saltiness).
Add the celery and apples and stir together, making sure all the sticks are well coated. If desired, add dried currants or cranberries and toss lightly. Serve chilled on lettuce leaves.
But the magic of the apple/celery pairing isn't just in their complimentary crispness. Cooked together, each brings out the essence of the other in a remarkable way. The salty savor of cooked celery highlights the tangy sweetness of cooked apples and together they form a remarkable flavor that's an ideal accompaniment to chicken, turkey, or pork.
Apple and Celery Stuffing
- 1/2 stick of butter or margarine
- 1 medium onion, chopped fine
- 1/2 tsp of minced garlic (optional)
- 1 tsp dried sage
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 4 - 6 celery ribs, washed and chopped fin
- 1 sweet apple (any variety) peeled, cored, and chopped fine
- about 8 ounces of dried breadcrumbs or stuffing cubes
- 1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
Melt the butter in a large frying pan and saute the onion and garlic over low heat until just softened.
Add the celery and apples; mix well and continue to saute for several minutes, until all ingredients are coated and are beginning to soften.
Add the breadcrumbs or stuffing cubes and toss in the pan to coat, then add the stock and continue to cook for about three minutes, or until the liquid is well absorbed and the crumbs or cubes are all moistened.
This makes an outstanding stuffing for turkey or chicken, but it's equally good simply baked in a casserole dish at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
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Persian Chicken With Celery
1 cup parsley chopped
1 chicken cut up into pieces
1 large onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pepper freshly ground
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons lemon juice
4 cups celery diced
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons butter
Melt butter in a 2 quart pot. Add chicken, onions, and seasoning and saute until the chicken is browned and onions are softened. Add chicken broth to kettle and cover, and let cook for about 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a skillet and add celery and parsley and saute it for 10 minutes. Add the sauteed vegetables and lemon juice to the meat and let simmer for another 15 minutes. Serve with rice.
Cold Chicken, Celery And Walnut Soup
1 1/2 water ( 2 1/2 pints)
1 carrot, peeled
2 chicken legs
2 heads celery, washed
2 onions, peeled
2 tb yogurt sea salt black pepper, freshly ground
200 g shelled walnuts (7 oz)
3 tb olive oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled
6 black peppercorns
Remove all skin and fat from the chicken legs, place them in a saucepan with one of the onions, the carrot, the peppercorns and a large pinch of sea salt, cover with the water, bring to the boil and simmer for 40-45 minutes.
Halfway through this time, chop up the remaining onion and the celery and put them to soften in the olive oil in a heavy, covered pan. When they are soft and the chicken is cooked through, strain nearly all the stock from round the chicken over the onion and celery and continue simmering for another 15-20 minutes.
Strip the chicken meat from the bones and cover it with one spoonful or so of stock to keep it moist. Discard the bones and the carrot and the whole onion from the stock.
In a large mortar crush the garlic with a little sea salt. Pound the walnuts into this until they are quite fine. Then pound in the chicken meat, which should be quite soft. Bind this mixture with the yogurt, season it with pepper, liquidize the celery soup and stir the chicken and nut mixture in.
You can crush the walnuts in an electric blender first; but do not add the garlic, as the blender would have a brutalizing effect on its taste.
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