Recipe: A Summer Salute to Celery

An unsung workhorse of the kitchen gets its close-up

by Brian Ricci

Celery is often overlooked in favor of more extroverted vegetables. (I’m looking at you, candy-striped beets!) We tend to associate celery with a crunchy, bland flavor, whose greatest purpose may be to act as a vehicle for peanut butter and raisins. No more. Local celery from growers such as Two Gander Farm have been growing celery for its intense flavor. Look for it in your local markets and give it the close-up that it so richly deserves.

Roasted Celery with Tarator
Serves: 2 to 4 as a shared appetizer

Tarator
Ingredients: 

  • 3½ ounce baguette, crust removed
  • 3½ ounces whole milk
  • 5½ ounces blanched almonds
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 ounces extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ounce lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Soak your bread in the milk for 30 minutes.
  2. Purée the bread/milk mixture with the almonds and garlic.
  3. Add the olive oil and lemon juice.
  4. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. You can also loosen the consistency with water.
  5. Chill your tarator once you have finished it.

Celery
Ingredients: 

  • 6 stalks celery
  • 5 ounces extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 bunch Italian parsley, washed and roughly chopped
  • Flaky sea salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Set your oven to 400 F.
  2. Wash your celery and cut it on an angle (bias) about 1½  inches long.
  3. Toss with sea salt, black pepper and olive oil.
  4. Place onto a baking tray and into the oven. You want them to caramelize slightly but retain a bit of firmness and texture. About 8 to 10 minutes should suffice.
  5. When they come out, toss them with the tarator sauce or place them in a serving bowl and drizzle tarator over, then top with chopped parsley and serve immediately.