Nearly every refrigerator contains dependable celery, and countless recipes list it as an ingredient. It is indispensable in French mirepoix, the aromatic base for numerous stocks and sauces.
Celery, available all year long, reaches its peak flavor during winter. Enjoy it fresh in salads or with savory dips. Chop and add to salads, stocks and soups, or braise the stalks gently as an appetizer or side dish. Use the leaves, much like parsley, as garnish on savory dishes.
Look for tightly bunched celery wtih firm, crisp stalks, a pronounced light green color, and healthy-looking green leaves. Avoid any bunches that are limp, hollow or browned.
Store whole bunches of celery in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Separate ribs from the bunch only as needed. Wash them thoroughly and trim off both ends. With few exceptions, new celery varieties are more tender and do not require the removal of tough strings from the ribs. If you find strings, run a vegetable peeler down the length of the stalk to remove them. Refresh limp celery ribs with a 30-minute soak in ice water.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Cooking from the Farmers’ Market, by Tasha DeSerio & Jodi Liano (Weldon Owen, 2010).
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