What to CookBreadCooking with Scraps

A Naturally Green Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick's Day (& Beyond)

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It’s nowhere near Valentine’s Day, but I’m still (still!) on a Cupid-like mission to get you to fall for something, hard.

Celery hearts and leaves. They not seem swoon-worthy, but they celery hearts and leaves don’t deserve their reputation as scraps. Here's why they make me weak in the knees:

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  1. Celery leaves make for a garnish that’s both pretty and tasty (I’m looking at you flavorless Karma orchids and dried-out curly parsley sprigs).
  2. Both the leaves and the tender hearts are bursting with celery flavor, without any stringiness or intense crunchiness (nothing against celery’s crunch, there are just times when it isn’t as welcome).
  3. And both are incredibly versatile, seamlessly melding into everything from sauces, to salads, to—today’s case—bread.
Photo by Alpha Smoot

This Nouveau Irish Soda Bread is studded with celery hearts and leaves, and scallions, too, giving it a pretty green tinge that’s just right for St. Patrick’s Day. You’ll find yourself turning to it long after March has gone though, because it’s a tasty, one-bowl (okay, and one pot) bread that comes together quickly and easily. It come to us from boulangere, whose username tells you all you need (knead?) to know—she knows her bread. Here’s what she has to say about this one:

I use a blend of all-purpose flour and cake flour in an effort to mimic the soft, low-protein flour grown in Ireland. I added a small amount of mashed potatoes for further tenderness and some good moistness, along with the tender parts of celery for its gentle texture and deeper cooked flavor, and scallions for their deep green and bright flavor.

And about the slashing of the top: Most soda bread recipes call for an “X” slashed into the top before baking. According to Kitchen Project, there are several explanations for this. It may honor the Christian symbol of the cross, or it may be the baker’s way of “letting the devil out” during baking. Most likely, it’s simply a technique for making it easy to divide the bread into four pieces.

Boulangere also urges you to use a good Irish-style lager, saying, "It's going to have a bright quality to both its flavor and color." Plus, you're only using 4 ounces of it in the bread, so since you chose a good one, you'll be able to enjoy the rest of the bottle with a slice of the bread (with butter).

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Nouveau Irish Soda Bread

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Makes 1 round loaf
  • 4 fingerling potatoes, about the size of (please don't take this the wrong way) your middle finger—enough to yield about 1/2 cup mashed
  • 1 teaspoon fine-grained sea or kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine-grained sea or kosher salt
  • 1 cup celery and leaves from the tender inner stalks, 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/3 cup scallions, green & white parts, 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 ounces Greek yogurt
  • 4 ounces good Irish-style lager beer
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Additional flour for dusting work surface

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Know of a great recipe hiding in the Food52 archives that uses an overlooked kitchen scrap? Tell me about it! Send me an email ([email protected]) or tell all in the comments: I want to know how you're turning what would otherwise be trash into a dish to treasure!

Tags: cooking with scraps, celery, celery leaves