Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What to do with Leftover Celery

Folks, before I start this post, you should just know that I've realized that I can't post about anything other than pugs and food. If you were expecting more, I guarantee you will be disappointed so you can stop following my blog now. I won't be offended.

So you know how most recipes which call for any celery only use "1 stalk" or "2 stalks"? So annoying, considering that celery is sold by the head, and sometimes in packages of two heads.  For years I've thrown away the limp, rotting remainders of celery heads that I had kept in hopes of...something, only to give up because I never did get around to making 18,000 batches of spaghetti sauce, which would have used up all the celery.  Chowhound has some suggestions as to what to do with leftover celery, but I wanted a real recipe that wasn't just a salad (although that is a very good idea).

Then the other day I was watching Lidia's Italy and saw a perfect solution for all that celery! The episode was about sauteed chicken with olives (which was super yummy by the way) and a side of braised celery with onions and tomato sauce.  Unfortunately, for whatever reason, her website fails to list the recipe for the braised celery and I couldn't find it anywhere online (although I did find someone else also despairing that they couldn't find the recipe).

I remembered the basics, though, and forged ahead blind.  I used:
  • two heads of celery hearts (this is just what they had at the supermarket and they are lopped off short, but you could also use one whole head with the leaves still attached), minus 2 measly stalks for whatever recipe for which you originally purchased the celery
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 14.5 oz can tomato sauce or whole peeled tomatoes which have been pureed
  • TBS tomato paste (optional) 
Prep your celery.  Trim of root ends and dry tops, cut into about 4 inch pieces, and wash thoroughly.  Split lengthwise any pieces that are particularly thick so that all the pieces are about the same size.  I also took the extra step of peeling the outer threads from the celery because Lidia told me to, but this is probably unnecessary and I wouldn't bother with if you don't feel like it. 

In a saucepan, saute the garlic with olive oil.  I also chopped up some garlic scapes because I had some leftover (not necessary). 

When garlic becomes lightly browned, toss in the sliced onion and saute until translucent (you're not trying to brown it--although if you do it's not like you'll go to hell or anything).

This is where I get a little hazy on what she did.  But I'll tell you what I did--I stirred in the celery, added a little water (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup), lowered the heat, covered the pan, and simmered for about 10 minutes (I could be totally wrong about that), until the celery is fairly limp.

When the celery is a bit limp, I put in about a TBS of tomato paste and the canned tomatoes.  Stir, then cover the pan and simmer for about 5-10 minutes.  Mine was looking a little watery so as a final step I uncovered and simmered for about 10 minutes to thicken the sauce.

I served it with the chicken, and potatoes roasted in duck fat.

I know, that doesn't look like chicken. I used a medley of olives, and didn't get a nice brown crust on the chicken which is okay because it was juicy and succulent throughout, although I'm confused about what I did wrong with the recipe. God that's a pretty funny picture of chicken.  The chicken is from Grazin' Angus, if anyone is curious--they sell them at some NYC farmers' markets and it is damn good chicken.

Here's what we drank with it. I chose this because I thought the richness of it would play well against the sweetness of the chicken, but that it had enough acidity to match the olives.  No I'm kidding I didn't know any of that, that's just what the wine store guy told me. He was right!



  1. I always have recipes like that--ones that use just a portion of the vegetables, and I get so pissed. I end up wasting it! The same thing happens when I'm watching the Food Network. They'll cut the outside of the tomato and save the inner parts "for another recipe" Really? Am I really going to find a recipe for just one inner tomato parts? Probably not. Jerks.

  2. haha, at least it didn't take you long to find a focus for your blog! :) I think the only thing i've ever used celery for is uh..peanut butter or cream cheese logs. lol. or maybe stuffing?

  3. Ah... so smart. I hate how much celery I throw away, and my fridge seems to suck so bad and make it go limp within 2 days (I feel like at my mom's she can keep celery non-limp for at least a week???). Celery is LITERALLY the thing I throw away most!!!

  4. YUM.
    ps. all I want to hear is food and pugs anyway.

  5. I'm with Katie. What else is there besides food and pets? =D (1st time commenter, although I followed your blog on wedding bee!)

  6. ooooh. that looks delicious. I mean the wine. NO! I mean the food, too!

  7. Um, I'm confused - is there anything in life worth posting about other than dogs and food?

  8. mintedlife: yeah, such a joke. you know they don't use that stuff. or like the tough ends of asparagus. they're like ooh i'll make stock or soup--no you won't you liar.

    penga: you're right, i should look at the bright side!

    katie, kelly, hotcocoa: alright then, i keep 3 readers--score!!!

  9. Oooh this got me thinking about one of my favorite celery recipes (always looking to utilize ALL of the produce I buy before it goes bad). Super easy...saute 1/2 an onion, green pepper, and celery (all diced) w/EVOO...when they are tender, add a can of black beans and diced tomatoes. I season it with some cajun spices and hot sauce and let it simmer...then serve it on top of yellow rice. I always end up adding tons of celery just so it doesn't go bad in my fridge!

  10. Thanks for this! I always have a sad, wilting bunch of celery in the fridge b/c of all those pesky 1-stalk recipes

  11. I love celery too and I always use some when I make cream of __________ soup in fall.

  12. Love the pugs and food! :) Also, if you have limp-ish celery, my mom taught me to to chop off the bottoms of the celery like you would cut the bottoms of flowers from the florist. Then, you chuck them in some ice water and they stiffen right up.... lol (this is totally true, but I feel so immature typing that!) :)

  13. katie: thanks for the recipe, i'll try it sometime!

    stephanie: heehee i giggled too.