In this recipe, humble celery takes centre stage. Normally it is used as a vegetable to flavour lots of other dishes such as soups, casseroles and stews, after all celery, onions, and carrots are the vegetable triumvirate or Mirepoix in French cooking, used as the flavour base for so many dishes. This dish has quite subtle French style flavours, and I used some stale sourdough to make my breadcrumbs in the food processor which made the crumb and parmesan topping so tasty and crunchy around the edges. However any breadcrumbs will do.
The idea for this recipe began when I was making chicken soup, on a cool rainy day (love those days here), and I realised I had a lot of celery in the refrigerator. So the celery took over, and I also started waging war on all the other vegetables lurking in my crisper. As a result, a pot of vegetable stock appeared using up all of the veges which were looking a little tired but still usable, and so I simmered the vegetable stock alongside the chicken soup for a couple of hours. It's good time management to do it this way, as the same kind of veges went into the soup and the stock, and then at the end of the cooking time, I transferred some of the vegetable stock into the chicken soup to top it up. Delicious.
Meanwhile I was left with some nice crisp fresh celery, which I made into this delicious gratin. Who doesn't love a vegetable gratin? Celery is such an economical vegetable to buy, it only costs $2.00 for a whole head of it here, which is probably why I end up with so much of it, but it is very versatile and can be added to so many dishes. I found this recipe in River Cottage Veg Everyday, another great recipe thanks Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
1 head of celery
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs of thyme
25 g butter
100 ml thickened cream
75 g breadcrumbs
30 g very tasty cheese, such as Parmesan, Gruyere, or a hard goat's cheese, finely grated
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 160 deg. C/Gas Mark 3.
Break the celery into stalks. Set aside the outer stalks if they look a bit coarse or hollow which they probably are. They will be great to use in stock or soups. The secret to this recipe is to choose fresh crisp stalks, and to remove any noticeable strings from the the stalks you have chosen.
Remove all of the leaves from your chosen stalks and set them aside to use in stocks as well.
Cut all the stalks into 10 cm lengths.
Put the celery into a shallow ovenproof dish and add the bay leaf and the thyme, tucking in around the stems.
Pour over 3 tablespoons of water, dot the butter over the stalks, and sprinkle with some salt and freshly ground pepper.
Cover the dish with alfoil and bake for about 40 minutes until the celery is tender.
Remove the dish from the oven and turn the oven temperature up to 200 deg. C/Gas Mark 6.
Discard the thyme and bay leaf, and carefully pour off the liquid from the celery dish into a jug.
To the celery liquid add enough cream to make up to 150 ml and whisk together. Have a taste and add more salt and pepper if needed, then pour back over the celery into the dish.
Mix the grated cheese and the breadcrumbs together, sprinkle over the celery and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the crumb topping is crispy.
Finish off by grinding over some black pepper and serve.
Yum, my mouth is watering as I type this up.
Sometimes I also freeze celery and the leaves. It needs to be cut into usable sized pieces, then blanched, then quickly chilled in ice water, dried and frozen in zip lock bags.Great to use in stocks and soups.
Celery gratin is perfect to eat on meat free Monday with a lentil dish or even a frittata, if you follow that path, however we enjoyed it as a side during the week with a simple chicken casserole.
Simple, healthful and so yummy! We usually use celery in salads...this is a great way to use them too.ReplyDelete
Angie, it is so versatile, I use a lot of it in all kinds of cooking as well, and this one was a lovely surprise. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment.Delete
Thanks Pauline, I will pickup some celery the next time I am at the Farmer's Market.ReplyDelete
Chel it's probably beautiful celery at your farmer's market, I would love to see what you have on offer down there.Thanks for your comment.Delete
Yum, what a great idea. Thank you I am always looking for delicious veg recipes and this one looks great. CheersReplyDelete
Thanks Bernie, I hope you enjoy it.Delete
i would never have thought of making celery the hero but i bet it was delicious. a gratin is always a winner. i like to chuck all my old veg into a big pot and boil it up for stock. i hate wasting 'em!ReplyDelete
Yes celery baked as the hero, who would have thought.It was delicious though. thanks Sherry.Delete
HI Pauline, I am battling to leave comments on your posts! Hope this one goes through. Great idea if you have an abundance of celery :)ReplyDelete
Thanks Tandy. I'll ask others if they are having trouble with leaving comments on my posts, sorry about that. I think google blogger may be making some more changes. I might also send them a message and ask them to check my blog for any problems.Delete
Great idea! Love gratins, and have been thinking about a celery one. Gotta try yours -- looks so good. Thanks!ReplyDelete
Thanks so much KR. Gratins are definitely a crowd favourite, and this one is even quite healthy.Delete