Celery belongs to the same botanical family (Aepiacea or Umbelliferae) as angelica, anise, arracacha, asafoetida, caraway, carrot, celery, centella asiatica, chervil, cicely, coriander/cilantro, cumin, dill, fennel, hemlock, lovage, Queen Anne’s Lace, parsley, parsnip and sea holly. No wonder that photo I took of an old flat leaf parsley plant looked like young celery. The bugs and slugs apparently can tell these plants apart; slugs and aphids have never attacked my parsley.
The question now is: how to use the celery in the kitchen. Soups, sauces and celery sticks come to mind. The French mirepoix flavor base of onions, carrots and celery, the Italian soffritto, and the Cajun and Creole Holy Trinity are cooking staples using celery. The history of celery goes all the way back to the tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamun (died 1323 BC). But it was the ancient Greeks who really invested cultural significance to celery; they associated it with the cult of death. Death to the aphids, I hope. Read the Wikipedia article on celery – it’s quite interesting.
Here’s a simple salad with young garden celery. This homegrown celery is very sweet and mild, not at all stringy. The leaves are so abundant and delicious, I will have to think of something to do with them. At least the leaves are not ruined by the bugs and slugs. I’d better go search the garden shed for some organic pesticide before my entire crop is destroyed.
Summer Salad with Celery
- lettuce (I had some lovely New Red Fire, but use what you have
- sliced cucumbers
- sliced red onion
- arugula leaves
- celery, sliced into bite-sized pieces
- tomatoes, if you have them. I have no ripe tomatoes yet!
- extra virgin olive oil
- white wine vinegar (I used a white lemon balm vinegar, yum)
- Feta cheese, crumbled
- Layer salad in a salad bowl, starting with lettuce.
- Add on the arugula leaves, then celery, onion and cucumber.
- Drizzle with vingegar and olive oil.
- Sprinkle on cheese. Grind on some black pepper and serve.