Monday, March 12, 2012

Celery Gratin: Sharing Some Celery Love


I’ve been a long admirer of the British food writer, Jane Grigson, and I especially enjoy her lovely book, Good Things. It’s a treasure of seasonal cookery (now there’s a word I wish was in more popular use!) and she shares a wealth of information in a friendly, wise manner.


One of my discoveries is her brilliant combination of celery, butter and salt. I generally think of stuffing celery with peanut butter or cream cheese ... rather ho-hum but a decent snack. Jane Grigson shares what is by far the tastiest way to enjoy raw celery - with good butter and sea salt. If you haven’t tried this before, spread a stalk of celery thickly with your best butter and sprinkle some Maldon sea salt on top. So simple and so good.


Celery is the spotlight of this week’s Food52 recipe contest. A new challenge and stretching your imagination is always fun, and creating a recipe based on celery certainly affords this opportunity. Since I didn’t have any experience with cooking celery, other than adding it to soups, I wanted to see what I could come up with.


The first step was easy since I already knew it to be delicious - sauté the celery in butter and salt. From there a gratin began to unfold. Cherry tomatoes add a pop of color and bright flavor, and the white wine, butter, cream and Gruyere cheese ... well, you can imagine all they add! The celery flavor shines through and the softer texture from cooking it is pleasing. Sweet tomatoes, wine and cream form a tangy, rich sauce and Gruyere cheese adds a nutty, indulgent finish.

I’m appreciating celery’s versatility and happy to see it escape the crudités platter to become a more inspiring dish.

Celery Gratin
Serves 4

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 bunch of celery (approximately 1 1/2 pounds), leaves removed (save for soup) and stalks cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 teaspoon kosher salt
A few grinds of fresh black pepper
3/4 cup white wine
1 pint cherry tomatoes, rinsed and sliced in half
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, grated

Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Have an 8x8 or 9x9 inch broiler safe baking dish ready.

In a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the celery slices, salt and pepper and stir to coat. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, until the celery begins to soften nicely. Add the wine and bring to a simmer. Stir in the tomatoes and continue to simmer for 5 minutes. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and pop it in the oven for 15 minutes. Give it a stir about halfway through.

Remove the dish from the oven, stir in the cream and sprinkle the cheese on top. Return the baking dish to the oven for 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted. If desired, turn on the broiler and let the cheese brown a little. Serve warm with some crusty bread to soak up the sauce.

16 comments:

  1. Beautiful, I am not a cooked celery lover but I do think I would love this. Wonderful recipe.

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    1. Thank you, Suzanne! I hadn't tried cooked celery before (other than in soups) and I'm glad I gave it a go - maybe it's all the butter and cheese. :)

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  2. Beautiful recipe, and delicious too. I don't care about celery and peanut butter, gross... Sorry, never understand this combination. Gruyere cheese and celery? Oh, yes, that's a taste. I just used up last celery for my juice. Oh, well, shopping day is coming soon! I need to find your Za-something recipe: I have a lot of parsley in the garden from last year that needs to be used before it starts bolting. Let me see if I can find it. Thank you Hannah! You are the best! :)

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    1. Thank you, Marina! I like celery juice, too - definitely adds some nice flavor. I'm envious of all your parsley in your garden! I can't wait to see fresh greens growing when (if) spring arrives here. I hope you enjoy the zhoug recipe - it's a great one for lots of parsley.

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  3. That looks great, Hannah! I will definitely give that a try.

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    1. Thank you so much, Vanessa! Hope you enjoy it. :)

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  4. I love celery, and I can't wait to see the recipes in this weeks contest! This gratin sounds so great. I love the colors!

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    1. Thank you, Brianne! It's been fun to see all the creative ways celery can be enjoyed - love this week's challenge.

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  5. This sounds Sooo Divine, so comforting!

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  6. It seems like every time I comment here I say, "Gosh! I never would have thought of that!" So here we go: "Gosh! I never would have thought of that!" It looks absolutely fantastic!!

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    1. Aww, thank you, Brooke! You are too kind.

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  7. I always have a hard time figuring out what to do with all the celery in the bag. It always seems like so much! Thanks for suggesting a celery gratin--sounds lovely and I am a big fan of Jane Grigson. I need all of her books!

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    1. I know what you mean, Lauren - I usually use a few stalks of celery ... and then what? I had a feeling you were a Jane Grigson fan, too. I only have Good Things and need to track down her others - I read her Fruit Book from the library and enjoyed it immensely.

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  8. I have to tell you, I never would have thought to make celery the main ingredient in a dish. This certainly puts a new perspective on it. Thanks for sharing...can't wait to see what some of the other celery inspired dishes.

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    1. My pleasure, Venessa - this was a fun challenge, especially since I hadn't thought of elevating celery to a main ingredient either.

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