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How to Use Celery in Cooking

Updated on December 3, 2012
Celery can be used many different ways in cooking and is of great nutritional value.
Celery can be used many different ways in cooking and is of great nutritional value. | Source

Using Celery in Cooking


Celery is one of those vegetables that adds unobtrusively to just about anything you make with it yet still manages to be a stellar ingredient. Celery is also listed by some top food gurus as one of the super foods.

But what are some ways that you can use celery in everyday cooking?

  • Add it to soups, chowders, stews and sauces as part of a mirepoix or flavor punch
  • Celery is excellent chunked up in stir fry dishes such as Stir Fried Pork Recipe
  • Add it to sandwich spreads like tuna fish salad, egg salad or chicken salad for its added nutritional value and its natural crunchiness
  • Cream of celery soup is one of this author's favorite soups
  • Add celery to rices or grains of any kind while they're cooking (along with slivered almonds or other nuts for increased nutrition)--the natural crunchiness makes a great addition to rice or other grain dishes
  • This author uses lots of celery in potato salads of all kinds
  • For a different change of pace with celery, try braising it (method of steaming and cooking in liquid). It's great paired up with green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach or Chinese cabbages but it's also great braised with carrots and parsnips
  • Use it in sauces like bolognese for pasta dishes such as spaghetti or lasagna
  • Try a light and delicious celery souffle--the perfect accompaniment to chicken, beef, fish or pork
  • Baked Celery with Cheese is another side dish that goes with any main course
  • Though not cooked, add it to salads for crunch and extra nutrition

Source

Using Celery to Make Mirepoix


A great way to cook with celery is to use it to make a mirepoix. What is mirepoix and how do you pronounce it?

You pronounce this French cuisine term "mere-pwah" and it consists of a combination of onions, celery and carrot chopped fine, though there are several cultural variations of this.

Mirepoix is used as the basis to flavor sauces, soups and stews.

Ethnic variations of mirepoix:

  • It's called the holy trinity of Cajun and Creole cooking though combines onions, celery and bell peppers instead of carrots
  • In French or other cuisines, when using in a white sauce, parsnips will be substituted for carrots to retain the white color and is called fond blanc
  • Mirepoix au gras refers to the usual ingredients plus meat (such as pork belly or diced ham)
  • Mirepoix au maigre is termed "lean" mirepoix or without meat
  • In Southern Italy, it is called soffritto and is made with olive oil rather than butter
  • Northern Italians and the French use butter and you may see substitution of garlic, leek, shallot and herbs or all for the onion
  • In Portuguese cooking, it is called refogado and uses onion, garlic and tomato
  • Mirepoix is called sofrito in Spanish cooking
  • Germans use it cooked in bundles and will use leek, celeriac and carrot instead of the French version
  • The Polish chef makes wloszczyzna which will be made up of parsnips, parsley root, celery root, carrots, cabbage leaves, celery, parlsey and leeks

Whatever the ingredients or how it's made, mirepoix forms the basis of many dishes though is not a "stand-alone" dish. The combination is called an aromatic blend which adds flavor and substance to many sauces and nearly every stew or soup imaginable.

This author uses mirepoix (usually with a bit of garlic added or substituted shallots) for every soup, chowder or stew I make. I use the Southern Italian version with olive oil rather than butter unless I'm making a white sauce such as for scalloped potatoes.

It also forms the basis in my kitchen for Italian sauces like my bolognese sauce for Italian pasta dishes.

Check out the video recipe below for mirepoix with flavorful bouquet tucked into a leek leaf. It also has several additional ingredients and would make another excellent base for soups or sauces.

Diced onions, celery and carrot called mirepoix usually in 2:1:1 ratio (onions twice as many).
Diced onions, celery and carrot called mirepoix usually in 2:1:1 ratio (onions twice as many). | Source

Nutritional and Dietary Values of Celery


Versatile in being able to be eaten hot or cold, celery is a very popular vegetable in the US. It's particularly enviable for its great addition to diets for several reasons.

  • Low in calories--1 cup of chopped celery equals only 19 calories, 1 large rib 10 calories
  • Makes for an easy snack
  • Adds crunch and character to dishes such as stir fry or salad spreads
  • Rich in magnesium, potassium and calcium
  • Also high in vitamin K and vitamin C (check if okay to add if you're on a Coumadin diet)
  • High in fiber--1 g of fiber in 1 large stalk of celery and 2 g in 1 cup of chopped celery
  • In terms of carbs, there are 1.9 g in 1 large rib and 3.6 g in a cup of chopped

Cream of celery soup is a great winter meal or lunch choice but it's great any time of year.
Cream of celery soup is a great winter meal or lunch choice but it's great any time of year. | Source

Freezing and Dehydrating Celery


If you happen to get lucky and are able to grow your own organic celery or pick it up at farmer's markets, it's a snap to prep it for freezing or canning. That way, you'll have plenty on hand for cooking.

For freezing or drying, follow these simple steps:

  • Separate stalks from root (smaller, paler stalks make great additions to mirepoix or soups but don't forget to use the leaves too)
  • Wash and remove any coarse threads
  • Trim off ends and cut to 1-inch lengths (or whatever lengths you want that will fit into standard freezer bags)
  • Blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes
  • Immediately remove and put into an ice bath for 5 minutes
  • Let cool 5 minutes--dry
  • Place in vacuum sealed bags or freezer bags--freezes for up to 1 year
  • Prepare quantities of mirepoix and freeze and seal as above--great time saver
  • If drying, prep as above to cutting portion
  • Place in dehydrator and dry for 24-48 hours (depending on size of celery pieces and temp of dehydrator)
  • You can also dry in the oven in 4-6 hours
  • Store dried celery in airtight containers
  • Also dry celery leaves and use as you would parsley for added flavor
  • Frozen or dried celery should be used for cooking only

Preparing a Mirepoix with Aromatic Bouquet

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    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      5 years ago from Washington

      Thanks for stopping by, Om--I love everything celery related~ Going to try that souffle over the holidays as I love spinach souffle and think celery would be even lighter!

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 

      5 years ago

      Celery is one of my favorite veggies. Just like you, I love adding it to my potato salads. Never heard of mirepoix before. How interesting! A celery souffle is also a neat idea. I've got to try that some day =D

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      5 years ago from Washington

      Indeed, BJ--chicken salad without chicken well...it's just salad. But must have celery in all things spreadable. I actually grew up on cream of celery soup and thought I'd detest it when I got older--turns out I happen to love it~ And now I know how to say mere-paw....ha ha--mere-pwah~

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      5 years ago from south Florida

      Celery is cheap, celery is good.

      Celery adds crunchiness to your food.

      Regarding celery, I can take it or leave it but one thing is for sure - I cannot enjoy chicken salad if it doesn't contain crunchy celery. Adding chicken, too, is a definite plus.

      Merci for the mirepoix instructions.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      5 years ago from Washington

      Thanks for stopping in, Carol--me too--I'm a huge celery fan~

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      5 years ago from Arizona

      I love the celery ideas as I also use celery for almost every soup or veggie combo. I know it has many health benefits and adds crunch...We love crunch. Excellent hub and great job...Voted UP+++

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      5 years ago from Washington

      Thanks for stopping by NCB...and I had no idea it actually had a name either~ I've always used it for just about everything but I love, love, love the parsnip idea and also the video is awesome!

    • NCBIer profile image

      NCBIer 

      5 years ago

      I had no idea there was actually a term for that, Mirepoix, I love it! I use it to start chowder and stuffing usually with garlic a must. I also had no idea that celery was so versatile and am looking forward to trying some new recipes. Rated up, thank you!

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