Bites and Pieces: The Celery Edition

Hi all,

My better half recently celebrated her 13th 29th birthday. As per usual, I make a dinner in her honor and we have a friend or two over. This night, it was just the fabulous Ms. Cox. The request was for something on the lighter side, including a chilled soup. So, I went with the idea of soup, salad, a light entree and dessert. I was supposed to make a fabulous caramel corn from Bluestem (our favorite KC restaurant), but ran out of gas. I abbreviated it by making spiced nuts and serving them with a wedge of blue cheese (Rogue is fantastic for those who haven’t tried their cheeses).

Soup was easy. I planned on asparagus, but didn’t see anything I liked, so shifted to a cucumber, mint and yogurt version (Epicurious has the link). The main was easy too. Scallops have become a favorite of ours. Just get some hot oil (clarified butter is amazing), sear them, and add to a base. I planned on a mango sauce as we had a couple that were sitting around. Too long as it happens as they’d gone rotten under the skins. A roasted tomato sauce subbed nicely.

The salad is my reason for writing this post. Etto is an Italian restaurant in DC with a starter they call Celery, Celery, Celery and Walnut. The Post recently, umm, posted their recipe. This is one that takes you to $100 per person dining at a $5 per plate cost. The ingredient list is deceptively simple: celery, Chinese celery, walnuts, cheese and dressing. The Chinese variant is typically cooked, but has a great flavor. It takes a surprising amount of time to prepare, mainly as peeling celery takes awhile. It kept clogging my Oxo peeler, but was worth the wait.


6 – 8 celery ribs, outer side peeled and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)

1 cup chopped celery leaves from inside of the bunch (use the rest to make stock)

1 cup chopped Chinese celery

1 ½ cups chopped Chinese celery leaves

½ cup toasted and chopped walnuts


1/3 cup olive oil (use the good stuff)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. black pepper

2 oz. pecorino Romano cheese, shaved into curls



Toss it all together and have fun. I tossed the celery and leaves, whisked together the olive oiive oil, juices, salt and pepper and tossed that all together, put onto plates and topped with cheese. It can’t hurt to reserve a few of the leaves as a garnish.

5 Responses

  1. Hmmmmmmmm. . . sounds yummy. But what does the peeling do for the celery? If I just sliced it thinly would it be frowned upon?

    And thanks for the post!! Hippo birdies to MrsBlade!


  2. We love celery around here so will definitely try it and it sounds super refreshing for a summer salad. Thanks for the recipe!


  3. I think the celery is peeled as the outer leaves can be quite tough. One could get away without peeling the celery, especially if you use inner stalks rather than the outer ones. Save those for stock. The celery is also sliced quite thinly, which mitigates the toughness. I only used about half the bunch.

    The Chinese celery I found at LA Mart must have been thinner than that used by Etto. I needed a lot more ribs to get the needed amount.

    I think you could be flexible in terms of the dressing and cheese. Walnuts just cry out for a good blue cheese (and I have some leftover Rogue). A favorite dressing of ours comes from combining Trader Joe’s muscat orange vinegar with olive oil. Definitely be generous with the olive oil as the Chinese celery imparts a strong flavor.

    The salad is deceptively good. Both Keen and the Fabulous Ms. Cox, both of whom know good restaurants, were blown away by the salad.



  4. Speaking of Chinese Celery

    For soup

    1 medium leek (white and pale green parts only), chopped
    1 medium russet (baking) potato
    1/2 cup chopped shallot
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    2 bunches Chinese celery (1 1/2 lb total), top leaves discarded and stalks cut
    2-inch pieces
    1/2 cup dry white wine
    4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth (32 fl oz)
    1/2 cup heavy cream
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper

    For croutons

    6 (1/4-inch-thick) diagonal baguette slices
    1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    Kosher salt to taste


    Wash leek well in a bowl of cold water, then lift out and drain well. Peel and chop potato. Cook shallot in butter and oil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add leek and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add celery and potato and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add wine and boil 1 minute. Add broth and simmer, covered, until celery is very tender, about 1 hour.

    Purée soup in batches in a blender until very smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids), then pour through a large medium-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on solids. Discard solids. Transfer soup to cleaned saucepan, then stir in cream, salt, and pepper and heat over low heat until hot. Thin with water if desired.

    Bake croutons in oven until crispy either on low heat for 45 minutes or high heat for 10 to 20 minutes.


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