Celery is one of the few vegetables that are available all year round. Most popular as a dipping tool used on vegetable trays or as an ingredient in soups, celery doesn't often inspire cooks to think much about it. Surprise your family this week and elevate this vegetable into a side dish called braised celery hearts.
Buy fresh celery
Always buy fresh, crisp, clean celery of medium length and size that's pale green in color. Thin stalks that are a dark green in color are usually stringy. Always store celery in your refrigerator and use it within one week.
Make basic braised celery hearts
The following recipe takes about 30 minutes to make and serves approximately eight people.
Prepare two large bunches of celery by removing the older, outer rows of stalks leaving the light green/yellowish, tender hearts. Wash and trim the root ends, cut off the tops with leaves, and save these parts for when you make soup on another day. Cut the remaining hearts of celery lengthwise into quarters.
Pour 1 inch of water into a 12-inch skillet over high heat. Add the celery, onion and bouillon and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook 15 minutes or until the celery is fork-tender, then drain. Stir in the butter and the remaining ingredients before serving.
Get creative with braised celery
You can also add different ingredients to elevate braised celery hearts. Simply by adding one more ingredient to the basic braised celery recipe-tomato paste-and substituting olive oil for the butter, you've created an Italian side dish.
Bake instead of boil
Instead of boiling the celery hearts, you can also bake them. Just saute all the ingredients together and pour the mixture over the cleaned celery hearts that have been placed into a baking dish. Bake until the celery is soft, approximately 35 minutes in a 350-degree oven.
Do it the way they do in France
A French version of braised celery creates a sauce using olive oil, onion, garlic cloves, chicken or vegetable stock, fresh lemon juice, white wine and fresh parsley leaves. It's poured over the celery hearts and then baked.
Simple and delicious
Simple vegetables like celery can be turned into a delicious side dish that's both inexpensive to make and that will complement almost any main meal protein.