Put time into dinner now, and you can make it last forever -- or at least the whole week. Welcome to Halfway to Dinner, where we show you how to stretch your staples every which way.
Today: Go simple or go fancy -- chances are, we've got a way to use up all your celery.
Celery seems to be one of those vegetables that gravitates toward the bottom of our produce drawers. Unless you're a celery fiend and you find yourself craving ants on a log, it's not often that we open our fridge, exclaim "celery!" and then get to work on a celery-based dinner. Don't get us wrong -- we appreciate everything it does for us. The third and trusty component of the carrot-onion-celery base (also called mirepoix, if we're to be fancy), celery is much appreciated and needed -- until, eventually, it turns pale, then limp, and inevitably destined for the compost box.
If you're like us, you have a head of celery in your refrigerator now, eagerly waiting to be put to good use. Here are our 5 favorite ways to get creative with the vegetable for dinner.
Jane Grigson's Celery Soup
Stewed in butter with potatoes and onions, celery turns this soup into a brothy goodness that only tastes more like itself. (Bonus: This recipe uses a trick that will make all of your soups sing.) With affordable main ingredients, this soup reheats well for office lunches, and is elegant enough as a dinner party appetizer.
Marcella Hazan's Braised Celery with Onion, Pancetta, and Tomatoes
We trust Marcella on this one -- she's the queen of coaxing even the most stubborn winter vegetables into a state of bliss. Braising shines in this dish, which tops off at 7 ingredients (including salt and pepper). Serve it as an entrée to be sopped up by crusty bread, or piled on atop mound of cheesy polenta. Either way, it's nothing short of genius, and it requires very little but patience and a glass of wine during braising time.
This stir fry has almost everything in it -- which is why it's so good. Celery and cashews offer crunch, while chicken, tofu, and spinach balance everything out. Don't be afraid to experiment: Celery would do well in most stir-fries -- plus, its initial sharpness relaxes from the high heat of the wok, so it won't overpower your other ingredients.
Celery and Fennel Gratin
If you know anything about us, it's that we love being creative with gratins almost as much as we love saying gratin. Bake your celery in cream with toothy fennel and a panko crust, and you can't go wrong.
Italian Celery and Mushroom Salad
This salad is bright and simple and really lets celery take center stage. Paired with a hearty main or alongside a healthy portion of stinky cheese and toast, this salad wants to be part of your dinner tonight.
How do you use up your celery? Tell us in the comments!