We're celebrating Meatless Mondays with balanced, delicious meal plans. We hope you'll join us -- whether you're vegetarian all the time or just here and there.
Today: We're going to sell you on celery.
If the last time you ate celery was in third grade as the log part of ants on a log, it's time to change that. Tonight, we're moving celery out of the realm of peanut butter and raisins and onto your dinner plate. Yes, celery is a good afternoon snack, but it's also so much more.
Let's start with the stalks. Celery ribs are fantasically crunchy and, when paired with savory mushrooms and nutty Parmesan cheese, they form the basis of a salad you'll want to make everyday. But wait -- there's more! The root of the celery plant -- celeriac -- might not be the most beautiful vegetable, but you'll forget all about its comely apperance when you taste this pure, tart celeriac purée.
1 medium celeriac
1 small Idaho potato
1 Granny Smith apple
1 pound delicate mushrooms (cremini, oyster, or shiitake)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
8 ribs celery
1 cup shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
Your kitchen is probably stocked with olive oil, salt, pepper, unsalted butter, bay leaves, and eggs. If not, you'll want to add those to the list, too.
1. Chop the celeriac and potatoes and get them into a pot of salted, cold water. Bring the water to boil for 10 minutes. Then add the apple -- peeled, cored, and chopped -- and boil for another 10 minutes, until everything is tender.
2. Meanwhile, wipe the mushrooms clean and slice them as thinly as possible. Sauté with olive oil until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes, then season with salt and pepper and set aside.
3. Next, heat the cream in a small saucepan with 2 tablespoons of butter and a bay leaf.
4. Drain the cooked vegetables and return them to the hot, dry pot. Stir for 2 minutes over low heat until they are dry. Use a food processor to purée the vegetables with the cream mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Whisk about 4 tablespoons of olive oil with the lemon juice in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Slice the celery as thinly as possible, using a mandoline if you have it, and add it to the bowl along with mushrooms, cheese, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and eat alongside the celeriac purée, a couple of eggs -- fried, poached, or scrambled -- and big piece baguette.
Photos by James Ransom and Sarah Shatz