Yesterday I harvested my volunteer celery. I opted to pull the plant up and harvest the whole thing at once. It’s starting to get warm here (the high yesterday was 77°F) and I didn’t want the heat to negatively affect the flavor of my celery. I also needed the real estate to plant my summer crops. This is the first celery I’ve ever grown/harvested and I was shocked at how leafy it was! I never realized how much of the plant they cut away when they sell it at the store.
Cleaning it was an adventure. I tried to put it in the sink and clean it. But things got a little crowded…
So I moved it to the counter. I removed the small outer leaves and what remained was more of what I thought of as a “stalk of celery”. So I felt much more comfortable taking things from there. I separated all the stalks and soaked them and the leafy greens in cold water for about a half hour.
And now the big question… what did I do with it?!?! First off, I wanted a dish that would highlight the celery. I also wanted to put all the celery leaves to use. So my husband and I made a few things. We made celery soup, celery-infused olive oil, and celery leaf pesto. We also acquired quite a bit of celery scraps for our next batch of homemade chicken stock.
For the main celery dish we had debated between celery salad and celery soup. We decided to go with celery soup and it was delicious! There are a lot of good celery soup recipes out there. My favorite is from Amy Thielen’s The New Midwestern Table. You can see the recipe on Google Books but I would also highly suggest buying this cookbook. It is – without a doubt – the best cookbook I own. (And if you are looking for a good celery salad recipe, I’d suggest this one.) Anyways, we topped the celery soup with some pan-seared scallops, celery leaves, and celery-infused olive oil.
The celery-infused olive oil was, of course, homemade and was a great way to use some of the celery leaves. All I did was put a bunch of celery leaves in a small saucepan and I added just enough olive oil to cover them. I also added a dash of red pepper flakes to the oil. Then I heated the saucepan on low heat for about two hours. I let it cool completely and what I didn’t use today, I put in a glass olive oil jar for later.
We also made some celery leaf pesto. It was good and had more of an earthy flavor than typical pesto. The recipe is below if you are interested.
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup walnuts
2 cups celery leaves
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
honey, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste
Combine the garlic, walnuts, and celery leaves in a food processor. With the food processor still running, drizzle in the olive oil. Then pulse in the parmesan cheese. Add salt, pepper, lemon juice, and honey to taste. (The addition of the honey was my husband’s idea. Initially our celery leaf pesto was a little bitter but adding just a touch of honey made things perfect!)
And there you have it… a true tribute to celery. Happy cooking and gardening!