Author Notes: Spring has (almost) sprung, and yesterday at the market, I was beside myself amid the gorgeous new arrivals: rhubarb, lemongrass, heirlooms (yes from a greenhouse somewhere but they still looked as if they might taste like tomatoes!) and so forth. I've long wanted a use for celery beyond the salad and really thought it would be lovely in a gelato. I like an element of surprise and savory in sweets, and the herbaceousness of celery sounded like a perfect yet delicate foil to a creamy ice cream custard.
Rhubarb has a similar vegetal quality, and I loved the idea of a compote flecked with celery seeds adding color and zing to the gelato.
This is creamy yet light, and you really get the essence of celery throughout. I love it!
(I use a vanilla ice cream recipe from epicurious as the foundation for my gelato.) - em-i-lis
Food52 Review: Don't be put off by vegetables in gelato! This is definitely worth trying. I was pleasantly surprised by the gelato — the celery flavor is subtle and refreshing. By itself, it might be a cooling way to end a spicy meal. With the compote, which contrasts sweet-tart against creamy, it serves to highlight some of the best flavors of the spring season. - rainydayfriend
For the celery juice and rhubarb compote
- 6 celery stalks with leaves, washed and cut on the diagonal into chunks
- 1 4" piece of lemongrass; tough outer sheath removed; remainder pummeled lightly with a meat tenderizer or the like (you want it bruised)
- 1 teaspoon celery seeds
- 4 ounces rhubarb (from about 2 long, thin stalks), chopped just larger than a dice
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- 1 tablespoon + 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon toasted celery seeds, divided
- Put the first 3 ingredients (celery, lemongrass and celery seeds) in a small pot and add water JUST until the greens are covered. Boil 35-40 minutes until celery is soft. Remove the lemongrass, and using an immersion or regular blender, puree. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and set aside. You should have about 1⅓ c celery juice. Set aside.
- While the celery is cooking, make the rhubarb compote. Mix the rhubarb, sugar, mint and lemon juice in a bowl and let sit 5-10 minutes. Then pour into a small saucepan set over medium-low heat, cover and cook until rhubarb is tender, about 5 minutes. Fold in 1/2 tsp of the toasted celery seeds, remove from heat, scoop out into a cool bowl, and set aside. When cool, cover and chill in the fridge until you're ready to serve the gelato.
For the gelato
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon + 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1⅓ cup reserved celery juice (from above)
- Whisk together cream, milk, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking occasionally, then boil, whisking, 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the celery juice and the remaining 1/2 tsp of the toasted seeds. Transfer to a bowl and chill, uncovered, until cold, at least 1 hour.
- Freeze in ice cream maker, then transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 2 hours. (The ice cream maker is optional but will facilitate the creamy-texture factor.)
- When ready to serve, scoop out servings of gelato and top with the rhubarb compote.