According to the Kitchen Dictionary – “Celery is from the same plant family as carrots, parsley, fennel and caraway. There are two main varieties of celery grown today. The most common is the pale green Pascal celery. Golden celery is grown under a layer of soil to prevent it from developing and turning green. Celery grows in bunches of long, ribbed stalks with leafy tops. Celery hearts are the inner ribs of the celery. The wild form of celery is known as smallage. It has a bitter taste, and the stalks are more stringy than cultivated celery. Smallage was used in ancient times as a medicine, and the Romans used it as a seasoning. It the 17th and 18th centuries celery was developed by breeding the bitterness out of smallage. Using a celery stick to garnish a Bloody Mary originated in the 1960s at Chicago's Ambassador East Hotel. An unnamed celebrity got a Bloody Mary, but no swizzle stick. He grabbed a stalk of celery from the relish tray to stir his Bloody Mary and history was made.”
Celery is available year-round. It should be stored in the refrigerator in the crisper or in a plastic bag and should remain crisp for two weeks. If it becomes wilted, place the separated ribs in a bowl of ice water for several minutes. Freezing will make celery wilt and should be avoided unless you will be using it in a future cooked recipe.
Today, celery is a popular herb and vegetable. The stalk is served raw or sliced and cooked as an important ingredient in many soup- and stew-like dishes. Celery shows up frequently in gumbo and related dishes. The leaves may be chopped and used as a garnish (similar to parsley). More frequently, they are cooked in soups or sauces as a flavoring herb. Celery matches well with almonds, bechamel sauce, blue cheese, butter, celery seeds, cream, curry, dill, fennel, hollandaise sauce, lemon, nutmeg, parsley, peanut butter, walnuts.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
- Add chopped celery to your favorite tuna fish or chicken salad recipe.
- Put peanut butter on celery stalks.
- Use celery leaves in salads.
- Braise chopped celery, radicchio and onions and serve topped with walnuts and your favorite soft cheese.
- Add celery leaves and sliced celery stalks to soups, stews, casseroles, and stir