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Celery in the Spotlight

Celery’s many forms and parts take turns playing the lead in these recipes, underscoring the plant’s exciting versatility.
By Published Nov. 30, 2021

The essay “A Word for Autumn” by A. A. Milne is, in part, a tribute to the end of summer and a meditation on the changing seasons—but it’s mostly about Milne’s unfettered passion for celery.

“It is as fresh and clean as a rainy day after a spell of heat,” he rhapsodizes about the vegetable, which he feels best captures the “crispness” of the cold months. “How delicate are the tender shoots unfolded layer by layer. Of what a whiteness is the last baby one of all, of what a sweetness his flavour.”

Shaved Celery Salad with Pomegranate-Honey Vinaigrette

The Winnie the Pooh author is hardly the lone member of celery’s fan club. For centuries, enthusiasts around the world have flocked to the plant: from Egypt and China, where wild varieties were used medicinally as a hangover cure or aphrodisiac, to Greece and Rome, where victorious athletes were crowned with celery leaves. And after cultivation of wide, crisp stalks began in the 1800s, the vegetable became downright trendy in the United States—Americans in the late part of that century ordered celery prepared myriad ways in restaurants (mashed, fried, as tea, as jelly) and also used it to adorn their dining tables at home, presenting stalks in elaborate crystal “celery vases” for their dinner guests to munch on.

If you ask me, the vegetable is well worth the attention. The three commercially grown varieties of celery—each cultivated for a unique purpose—produce parts with complex flavors, textures, and hues, offering cooks a wealth of possibilities in the kitchen. The dulce variety most popular in the West produces tall, grassy, herbaceous stalks. The rapaceum variety produces a bulbous underground stem known as celery root or celeriac that boasts an earthy-sweet flavor and takes well to braising, roasting, and pureeing. Finally, leaf celery, or the secalinum variety, grows more delicate-looking but more intensely flavored leaves and stems, often used in stir-fries and soups.

Roasted Celery Root with Chimichurri

These three recipes are designed to showcase celery’s impressive range. First, celery stalks meld with the aromatic parsley-and-anise-tinged flavor of raw celeriac in a shaved celery salad, a crisp, fresh mélange of thinly shaved roots and ribs with chopped frisée, toasted walnuts, Pecorino Romano, and a sweet-tart pomegranate vinaigrette. In a longer-cooked dish that highlights the creamy, tender qualities of roasted celeriac, the halved root spends an hour roasting wrapped in foil and then is crisped on the stovetop and generously garnished with chimichurri. Lastly, my version of lao hu cai, or Northern Chinese tiger salad, enlivens juicy, crunchy celery ribs with a bracing vinaigrette, piquant scallions, and plenty of hot chiles and cilantro.

One Species, Three Varieties

While all celery belongs to the same species, Apium graveolens, there are three unique varieties of the celery plant that are cultivated commercially, each bred for different purposes.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.