Celebrate National Fresh Celery Month!

First discovered in Europe’s Mediterranean region, celery has plenty of health and healing benefits. High in fiber, vitamin K, folate, and potassium, celery is good for digestion and lowers blood pressure. It’s a dieter’s delight with a mere 14 calories per cup.

 

Celery is delicious both cooked or raw, and we can eat it all, from the roots to the leaves. It’s used in salads, casseroles, and soups.  In fact, along with onions and carrots, celery forms the famed Mirepoix, the French base that flavors soups and stews. Another favorite is celery stalks (& either ranch or bleu cheese dressing) alongside Buffalo-style chicken or cauliflower. And stuffing for a duck, chicken, or turkey would be foul without celery in the dressing mix. (Yes, pun intended.) Further, what’s a Bloody Mary cocktail without its celery stalk stir stick? Nada, Baby!

 

So, let’s get cooking!

Stuffed Celery
Try celery filled with peanut (or other nut) butter; as a dipper in place of (or in addition to) chips and crackers. Or stuff some celery sticks with a favorite hummus or softened cream cheese to which you’ve stirred your favorite herbs or some dry ranch dressing mix. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley, if you like. Or add a slice of turkey or ham to each stick.

 

Chicken Salad
Add finely diced celery and sweet onion to your diced cooked chicken, and mayonnaise to make chicken salad. You can also add favorite herbs, dried cranberries, halved seedless grapes, diced apples, pears, or peaches, various nuts, and sesame and poppy seeds to the mix. Let it all chill for at least one hour (& preferably overnight) before serving. Use in sandwiches or mounded atop a frilly lettuce leaf.

Creamy Celery Soup
2 T butter
12-16 large celery stalks, sliced crosswise in ½“ pieces (keep some leaves for garnish)
7-8 trimmed broccoli florets
1 lg sweet onion, chopped
1 medium baking potato, peeled and diced small
Kosher salt & ground white pepper
6 cups water
2 T fresh lemon or lime juice
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over med heat. Add sliced celery, broccoli, onion, and potato; season with salt & pepper. Let cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring a few times. Add the water; bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to medium. Let cook 15-20 more minutes. Process with an immersion blender till smooth, stir in citrus juice & season with additional salt to suit your taste. Serve, garnishing each bowl with celery or other leaves or a cooked broccoli floret with a dab of sour cream and a crispy bread stick.

Seafood Salad
To add a lovely crunchy texture, stir some finely diced celery into a favorite shrimp or lump crabmeat salad. And for color, try adding some finely diced or chopped sweet red or orange bell pepper, too. For seasonings, keep it simple. For example, a little lemon or lime juice and ground pepper work perfectly. For some extra zest, add some Old Bay seafood seasoning.

About Cathy Burnham Martin

Author of 20+ books, and counting! A professional voice-over artist, dedicated foodie, and lifelong corporate communications geek, Cathy Burnham Martin has enjoyed a highly eclectic career, ranging from the arts and journalism to finance, telecommunications, and publishing. Along with her husband, Ron Martin, she has passions for entertaining, gardening, volunteering, active and visual arts, GREAT food, and traveling. Cathy often says, "I believe that we all should live with as much contagious enthusiasm as possible... Whether we're with friends or family, taking people along for the ride is more than half the fun."
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