Celery is an excellent supporting character. It’s easy to find, cheap to buy, and always reliable. But giving it a chance to shine can be hard. This quick little side dish changes that, putting the celery at the front and shoving the cabbage into the background.
It’s spicy and salty and has all the great flavors of a spring roll without the wrapper. I love this over rice with a little grilled chicken or tofu—with mellower foods, the celery and cabbage become almost a condiment. This is also a great filling for Scallion Crepes.
It uses two kinds of sesame oil: Asian sesame oil and spicy sesame oil, which is often available in a small bottle from specialty stores. If you can’t find the spicy oil, just omit it and add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes to the dish instead.
Heat a large, dry skillet over medium heat. Toast the sesame seeds in the skillet, shuffling them to keep them from burning, until they color slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the seeds to a small bowl and return the pan to the heat.
Heat the sesame oil in the pan over medium heat until it shimmers, about 20 seconds. Add the celery and cook, stirring often, until it’s soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the cabbage to the pan and toss with the celery. Cook, stirring often, until the cabbage is wilted and tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and transfer the celery and cabbage to a serving bowl. Toss with the tamari, spicy sesame oil, and toasted sesame seeds.
Alana Chernila writes, cooks, sells fresh vegetables, teaches cooking and cheesemaking, and blogs at EatingFromTheGroundUp.com. She is the author of two books, The Homemade Pantry:101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making, and The Homemade Kitchen: Recipes for Cooking with Pleasure. She lives with her husband and daughters in western Massachusetts.