Celery: Taking Stalk of the Root and Leaf
By Liz O’Connor

Celery stalk is a mainstay in American kitchens, adding color and crunch to salads, as well as depth and aroma to stocks. But, what of the root and leaves? Celery extremities have long seen the trashcan in American kitchens, but lately chefs are leaving nothing to waste. The leaf has become a popular component in salads, while the root, pureed, forms a flavorful bed for meats and fish.

Actually, the leaf has long served as a flavorful scrap, finding its way into stocks with other peels and spare bits. And the root has been used in European kitchens for years. In France, celery root, or celeriac, is a bistro classic served en remoulade. Italians and Greeks consider the celery root commonplace, too.

Stateside, though, the role of the root and leaf is changing. Celeriac, harvested from a variety of celery specifically grown for its root, boasts a strong celery and parsley flavor. Its texture, devoid of strings and ribs, lends itself to soups and purees. Uncooked and shredded, its distinct flavor and crispness also holds its own in bold salads.

The leaf, no longer scrapped, is delicate and flavorful in sundry dishes. It proffers celery flavor without bulk of stalk or root when mingling with other leafy herbs and greens. The featured recipes, from Chef Ed Bilicki of BlueZoo in Florida, utilize each part of the plant, highlighting it’s versatility.

“I like to pair celery with itself,” says Chef Bilicki, who serves a trio of root puree, braised hearts and celery leaf salad in a dish aptly named Celery Three Ways. “One of the principles that’s indicative of my style is the presentation of multiple forms of a vegetable on one plate. In my view, this provides a subtle thread of nuance, at least for the thoughtful diner.”

Recipe from Chef Ed Bilicki of BlueZoo
Celery Three Ways


   Published: January 2006