Dear Celery, Let's Take a Chance on Loving You.
Celery. It doesn’t necessarily have the most glowing reputation. Now, that’s not to say that it has a bad reputation either, but maybe it’s just that celery doesn’t have much of a defined reputation.
It’s like this: celery is not widely considered a celebrity vegetable; it doesn’t seem to have a really huge and really devoted fan base; it's probably not top of mind when making a birthday dinner request; it's presumably not anybody’s guilty pleasure or go-to drunk food of choice; and you would scarcely if ever hear someone say, “Oh man, I am just craving a stalk of celery right now” or, “I totally binged two heads of celery last Saturday night.”
One might assume that chefs love celery, seeing as it is a foundational ingredient for many sauces, stocks, soups and the likes, but that’s just the thing: it’s a foundational ingredient—not a show-stealer. Celery is like a member of the ensemble in a broadway musical; it’s there to help make the entire show well rounded and full of powerful song and dance, but celery is not the person you’re waiting for outside the stage door with your playbill and sharpie in hand.
...but why not? Maybe celery should be a celebrity vegetable. Maybe instead of playing a supporting role all the time, celery should get the chance to be the star of the musical: to have a solo number and maybe even an on-stage kiss!
Sure, celery is pretty bitter and rather peppery, but you know what else is bitter and peppery? Arugula. And arugula gets to play the leading role in lots of dishes. It’s the star of countless salads, often the finishing flourish on pizzas, and typically the reason your roast beef sandwich cost $15 instead of just $10. So what do you think? Why not give celery a shot in the spotlight? Pair it with something sweet and equally crunchy, mix it with something tangy and creamy, dress it all up in something acidic and slightly spicy...and we think you’ve made celery a celebrity yet.
Celery-Apple Salad from Henrietta Red
Makes 4 appetizer or side portions
3 Tbs. lemon juice
3 Tbs. evoo
¾ tsp. red chili flakes
1 ½ tsp salt
¾ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¾ lb. celery stalks, washed and trimmed
1 ea. Gala apple, or similar
¼ cup walnuts, toasted with grapeseed oil and salt
¼ cup aged sharp cheddar, broken into small pieces with a fork
¼ cup celery leaves
Combine lemon juice, olive oil, chili flakes, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and whisk until the salt is dissolved.
Using a mandolin, shave celery stalks and apple to ⅛-inch thick into a medium bowl. If you don’t have a mandolin, you can slice them thinly with a knife.
Add walnuts and cheese and toss to combine. Taste and adjust acid and seasoning to taste.
Spread on a serving platter or individual appetizer plates. Garnish with celery leaves and serve.