En­joy now: cel­ery

NZ House & Garden - - FOOD -

Cel­ery tends to be a bit player – al­beit an im­por­tant one – and sel­dom the main event: its unique flavour doesn’t stand out yet it makes a huge dif­fer­ence to soups, stews, sauces, stocks and other cooked dishes, while its fab­u­lous crunch and juici­ness makes it an ex­em­plary salad in­gre­di­ent. The raw stalks also make bril­liant ve­hi­cles for creamy or cheesy dips – or sim­ply just some peanut but­ter.

Cel­ery is easy to grow (buy seedlings rather than seeds) and it gives you the op­tion of pick­ing a stalk or two when you need it: cut the out­side stems, leav­ing the rest of the plant to keep hap­pily grow­ing.

Store stems in a plas­tic bag or tightly wrapped in foil, in the fridge; be­ing 95 per cent wa­ter, cel­ery freezes eas­ily so keep it away from the cold­est part. For whole cel­ery, stand the bunch in 2-3cm wa­ter in a jar and change the wa­ter daily.

Young cel­ery leaves – the ones from the cen­tre – are lovely used as a herb. The ten­der in­ner stalks are also the sweet­est ones to use in sal­ads.

The tougher outer stalks are best suited for cooked dishes, al­though re­mov­ing their fi­brous strings us­ing a potato peeler im­proves them im­mensely.

1 cup diced cel­ery is equal to about 120g.

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