As celery is usually sold as a whole head, once you’ve taken away a stick or two for your spaghetti Bolognese, there’s a lot left to play with. Its divisive nature means that while some people will happily plough through and eat it raw with dips, others find its flavour disagreeable. However, once cooked, celery proves an invaluable ingredient. It’s a great base vegetable for lots of dishes – once sweated until soft, its peppery taste can add a real savoury depth.
How to store celery
Look for firm and tight celery with even stalks and leaves that look fresh. Make sure you wash it well and pat dry. Celery is really robust and often lasts for several weeks, although we recommend consuming it within two. Store it in the fridge and leave the stalks attached to the base until you need to use them.
If you don't want to use it up straight away, celery freezes well. You can rinse and chop up raw celery then freeze it on baking sheets for a few hours before transferring to plastic bags. It will keep in the freezer for a few months. Alternatively, blanch and refresh diced celery, drain thoroughly and freeze for up to 6 months.
Leftover celery recipe ideas
Use celery when making vegetable, meat or fish stock. Its hardy nature means it can withstand being cooked for several hours, and it won’t leach any colour into the stock. Use the main stalks for flavour – cut them into large chunks so they don’t disintegrate – and then the thin leafy end as the base to a bouquet garni, a bundle of herbs bound together to add flavour to stocks and sauces.
2. Celery gratin
Give celery its time in the spotlight by using it in a creamy baked gratin. This version has a nutty topping and uses up two heads of celery, although you can scale the recipe down depending on how much you have available – just be careful when adjusting liquid levels.
Crunchy crudités are always a winning buffet feature. So, if your celery is still fresh, chop it into chunks and serve with creamy hummus. For a healthy snack to beat mid-afternoon hunger, pair celery with iced grapes and cheddar cubes.
4. Waldorf slaw
Celery is a key component in the classic Waldorf salad. This homemade coleslaw throws a fresh spin on the dish. It uses up four sticks of celery, plus it keeps in the fridge for three days. Pack into your lunchbox with cold cuts or pies, add to sandwiches or jacket potatoes, or serve on a buffet.
5. Celery soup
If you've got a big glut of celery, then there's no better way of using it up than blitzing into a smooth soup with potatoes and garlic. This simple blend makes a super-satisfying veggie lunch, served with a chunk of crusty bread.
6. Herby celery & bulgur salad
This recipe uses up a whole bunch of celery, but would still work if it were a few sticks short. It also makes use of the celery leaves, which are edible and can be added to salads or sandwiches. The combination of nuts, pomegranates, herbs and wheat makes this vegan salad a textural delight.
A Sicilian vegetable stew with aubergines, tomatoes, capers and raisins – perfect served on garlicky bruschetta, or as part of an antipasti spread. Cook the vegetables down until they’re soft but not broken up.
8. Italian sausage & pasta pot
While a lot of soups and sauces require only a celery stick or two, this heart broth uses up three in one swoop. Use the classic ingredients for ‘soffrito’ – the Italian name for slowly sweating celery, onions and carrots – and combine with stock, sausages and beans.
9. Grilled steak salad with horseradish
Given their matching peppery flavour profiles, celery and horseradish make natural partners. This recipe really cranks up the flavour by using celery seeds, too. Cut your stalks into thin slices and enjoy the contast between the crispy chunks and soft rare griddled beef.
10. Chicken with braised celery & cider
If you have a real abundance of celery, use it as the main accompaniment to roast chicken. Nestle the celery next to the whole bird and cover with apple cider so it soaks up all the rich flavours.
Celery – love it or loathe it? We'd love to hear your serving suggestions
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