Celery can be stuffed with cream cheese or peanut butter. It can be sliced into sticks for a go-to snack. It’s great for dipping. It adds lightness and crunch to salads. It shows up in celery soda. It’s a classic as a soup starter along with carrots and onions. It can be used every day of the week in a different way, and, still, I am amazed at how often I will use celery for whatever reason I bought it and then leave it to languish in the vegetable drawer for weeks until I either have to throw it out or trim off the bottom and put the limp stalks into a glass of water to revive them.
But this week I was faced once again with a full bag of celery just as I needed to choose a new ingredient to play with for the next three weeks. So, celery it is.
Once I decided on celery, a Bloody Mary came to mind, even though I can’t remember the last time I had one. And that led to combining tomatoes and celery, which are terrific together. I looked at a couple Bloody Mary recipes for some flavoring ideas for this salad. It’s not so much a deconstructed Bloody Mary, more that it echoes some of its notes.
Into a bowl:
- 8 ounces of grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 3 celery stalks, sliced thinly on an angle, and some chopped fronds
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 3 tablespoons olive tapenade (the jar I have is a mix of kalamata, black and green olives)
- handful of chopped parsley
- olive oil to coat
- lemon zest and juice from one lemon
- something for a little kick: a little hot sauce, crushed red pepper…I had cayenne pepper, so I added a couple shakes of that
- and, just for fun, a tablespoon of vodka
- salt and pepper
This salad was delicious. Crisp, bright, a good sharpness. We enjoyed it as a side with pasta and thin slices of sautéed tofu.
But you can see its possibilities. It can be added to salad greens for more of a full-course salad. It can be tossed in with pasta or another grain for a cold pasta/other grain salad. It can be warmed through, and become a delicious sauce for pasta or other grain. It can fill a good hoagie roll, along with cheese, for a great sandwich. A topping for crostini.