A versatile vegetable that is widely used in a variety of recipes. It adds a fresh flavour as well as a distinctive crunchy texture to both cooked dishes and salads. Celery was first introduced to the UK in the 17th century from Italy where the Romans used to wear it as a protection against hangovers! When buying celery look for regular shaped stalks that are not broken or bruised, it should look moist and crisp and be tight and compact. The darker the celery, (it can range from white to darkish green) the stronger its flavour. Over-large heads of celery tend to be stringy and are best avoided.
How to Use
Celery can be eaten raw or cooked. It can be included in a variety of salads including Waldorf salad where it is combined with chopped, unpeeled red-skinned apples and walnuts and dressed with mayonnaise. Serve pieces of celery with sliced peppers and carrot and cucumber chunks as crudité for savoury dips. Serve the best inner stalks to accompany a cheeseboard, with bread or biscuits and a small dish of sea salt for dipping. Celery can be sautéed or served au gratin as a vegetable side dish. It adds flavour and texture to soups, stocks, casseroles and risottos.
How to Prepare
Remove any damaged or bruised outer stalks (these can be used for stock or soup) and trim off the leaves. Separate the stalks, trim off the ends and pull off any strings. Scrub well and rinse under cold running water to remove any traces of soil or grit. Slice into even-sized pieces for cooking and bite-sized pieces for salads.
How to Cook
Celery can be pan-fried or served au gratin. To pan-fry celery, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan, add the chopped celery and season well, cook stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes or until it is tender but crisp. To cook celery au gratin, preheat the oven to 190C, gas mark 5. Fry the celery as above, transfer to an ovenproof dish and cover with cheese sauce, top with grated Cheddar cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
How to Store
Keep in its plastic sleeve (if provided) in the fridge for up to 1 week.