Philacatessen | Celery Takes Center Stage (or at Least a Supporting Role)


Celery is having a moment.

Early this year, celery juice seemed to have replaced kale juice as the cure-all panacea. Every time I turned around, there seemed to be another claim of its health benefits: It enhances weight loss, lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation and flattens your belly.

Further research through legitimate nutritional experts partially debunked most of these —celery is good for you, and celery juice contains less sugar than other juices like apple or mango, so it’s a better option than sweet juices. But one of the key health benefits of celery is the fiber it delivers. If you juice it, you don’t get the fiber, so experts recommend consuming the whole vegetable.

Until recently, celery was generally an afterthought: Sure, it adds a fresh crunch to tuna or chicken salad, is often included in chicken soup and adorns most crudite platters. But it is never the star of the show.

But that was not always the case.

In ancient Greece, celery was considered a holy plant. Romans used it mainly for cooking, but also had some superstitions around it.

In the 1800s and early 1900s, celery was a delicacy in the United States, because it was difficult to cultivate; shockingly, it was more expensive than caviar. At the time, celery was was one of the most popular items in New York City restaurants, according to the New York Public Library menu archives.

Regardless, celery is healthy, flavorful and delicious, and it’s about time it experienced a resurgence in popularity. Recently, a culinarily inclined friend served this celery salad at a dinner party — she was inspired by an Ina Garten version of a similar dish, but tweaked it to her own taste.

Celery Parmesan Salad

Serves four to six

⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Zest of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 scallion, green and white parts, chopped

1 teaspoon celery seed

½ teaspoon salt

Fresh ground pepper

12 stalks celery, sliced

½ cup shaved Parmesan

½ cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped

Chopped parsley to garnish

In a large bowl, mix the oil, lemon zest and juice, scallion, salt and pepper.

Add the celery, and toss to coat. Allow it to rest at room temperature for an hour to meld flavors. If resting for longer than an hour, the salad can be refrigerated.)

Just before serving, top the salad with the Parmesan, nuts and parsley.


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