Welcome to my world - a blend of passion, taste, and old-world traditions.

Benvenuti nel mio mondo - un mischio di passione, gusto e vecchie tradizioni.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Discover the Real Taste of Heirloom Celery (Sedano)

Before coming to the table, celery was once known for its healing powers. Mentioned as a medicinal plant in Homer's Odyssey, more than 1000 years ago, and in medieval times it was regarded as a panacea against all evils.

All photo Copyright - ©2010 - La Casa e Il Giardino - picasaweb
Celery growing in our vegetable garden
In our large grocery stores, we are limited to the common varieties Pascal and Golden Heart. The stalks are only faintly green, while heirloom celery often has a deep hue that animates chefs. The darker the color, the more nutritious and the deeper the flavor will be. Commercial growers trim back the leaves to encourage stalk growth, essentially reducing the vegetable’s flavor potential by a third. Little do they know that celery leaves are worthwhile leaves with intense flavor that fall somewhere in the scent category between cilantro and parsley.  It is rich in nutritional properties such as Vitamin B.  What's more, celery stimulates the immune system, has a calming and relaxing effect, is a source of calcium for our bones, and some even consider it an aphrodisiac. Moreover, celery has very few calories.

Darker the hue, more intense the flavor

So, next time, save the leaves. I personally wash them, dry and freeze them in zip-lock bags. In the winter, I use them in chicken soup, bean casseroles, baccala’, zucchini and potatoes and stuffing. If you are a novice to the complex flavors of celery, discover the love of celery in chicken soup. Like a bite from an heirloom tomato, the intense flavor of heirloom celery will open up a whole new world for you. Perhaps, it will even give you the passion to grow a vegetable garden.
Next time, do not discard the leaves. If you're not a “cook”, then toss them into this simple salad.

Celery Leaf Salad (Insalata di Sedano)

1 lb. buttercrunch lettuce leaves
2 cups chopped celery leaves
Dressing:
2 tbsp. red table wine or red-wine vinegar
2 diced shallots
2 tbsp. hazelnut oil
salt and pepper
drop of honey
3 tbsp. olive oil