February 22nd, 2014 § 0 comments

Celery is a modest vegetable. More a character actor than a main star. Essential base ingredient for making all sorts of stocks and sauce; deeply reliable for adding texture and subtle flavors to salads (green, tuna, chicken, etc.). Otherwise invisible. This was not always the case. In HG’s youth, celery stalks and olives were always served at formal dinners as part of a crudité and often were a giveaway at good restaurants. Best celery dish ever was braised celery with bone marrow, a specialty at the Oak Room in New York’s Plaza Hotel. (Last time HG ate this was at lunch with the late Ron Ziegler, Nixon’s press secretary. Ziegler scarfed down one order of this luscious dish and quickly ordered another which he also managed to finish) and promptly hired HG for a lucrative PR assignment. Nothing to do with Nixon, HG adds ). Celery made a bit of a comeback when Buffalo chicken wings became fashionable. The favored accompaniment for those peppery hot morsels was celery stalks with blue cheese dressing. Celery has an affinity for blue veined cheese. The English often serve lush Stilton with celery. HG likes celery stuffed with good Maytag Blue or Stilton and a glass of port. Give it a try. The imperative is to get rid of the stringy exterior of celery stalks with a vegetable peeler. There is one place where celery–both cooked and raw–is consumed with gusto: Tuscany. Tuscans have even invented a pasta called sedanini, which translates as “small celery pieces.” There are two basic Tuscan pasta recipes that utilize celery: Sedanini al Sedano (celery is boiled until fully cooked but still firm and then mixed with garlic that has been sizzled in olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and some of the water the celery has been boiled in) and Sedanini alla Crudaiola (a warm weather dish where the celery is mixed with peeled and marinated ripe tomatoes; garlic, basil, parsley, olive oil and red pepper flakes). Giuliano Bugialli, the Italian pasta authority, says the key to both dishes is to cut the celery into pieces that are the same shape and size as the “sedanini” pasta. Sounds good. Time for celery to make a comeback.


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