Last week I had the pleasure of discovering baby celery at the farmers’ market. It looks similar to a bunch of parsley, with thin stems and full, flat leaves. Baby celery is grown hydroponically in little sponges, and will stay alive in your fridge if you keep the sponge moist.
The stalks are delicate and crunchy, without the stringiness of mature celery. But like most “baby” vegetables, its flavor is amplified. The leaves have an intense celery flavor and can brighten up any salad, or replace parsley as a garnish or herb. With this in mind, I made a version of tabbouleh with it. I also combined a few recipes to arrive at a delicious baby celery and radicchio slaw with dates, walnuts and sherry vinaigrette.
Baby Celery Tabbouleh with Walnuts and Sesame Seeds
serves 2-4 as a side
1 cup bulgar wheat
2 bunches baby celery, washed and dried, stems finely chopped, leaves minced
2 plum tomatoes, cored and seeded, finely chopped
2 scallions, white and pale green parts only, finely shredded on a diagonal
handful of mint leaves, finely shredded
2 tblsp sesame seeds, toasted in a dry skillet until golden
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 3 lemons
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp sumac
4 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
coarse salt and pepper
1. Place bulgar in a heat-proof bowl and pour 2 cups of boiling water over it. Cover with plastic and et soak for 1 hour. Fluff with a fork. (Or prepare according to your package). Let cool to room temperature.
2. In the meantime, make the dressing. In a large bowl, combine lemon zest, lemon juice, thyme and sumac. In a slow steady stream, whisk in the olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper.
3. When bulgar is cooled, combine bulgar, baby celery, scallions, mint, and tomatoes with the dressing. Let the flavors marry at room temp for an hour (or longer, in the fridge). To serve, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and walnuts.
Baby Celery and Radicchio Slaw
serves 4 as a side
2 bunches baby celery, washed and dried, stalks cut in 2-inch pieces, leafy greens left intact
1 head of radicchio, cored, quartered, and cut in thin strips
8 dried Medjool dates, pitted and quartered lengthwise
1/2 cup walnuts
shaved parmesan cheese
2 tblsp sherry vinegar
1 tblsp honey
1 small shallot, minced
3 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread walnuts on a baking sheet and toast until golden and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Let cool and coarsely chop.
2. In a large bowl, use a fork to whisk together the shallot, honey, and vinegar, and in a slow steady stream, the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Gently toss in the baby celery, radicchio, dates, and walnuts. Shave parmesan cheese over the salad and serve.