Spotlight on: Celery!

Celery is one of those vegetables that really deserves to have its own spotlight. Yet it is so common in just about every cuisine that it falls  into the fatal category of background foods, foods that we are used to only eating as garnishes or in minute amounts, and thus we barely consider them edible all on their own.

Celery is not only edible on its own, it is completely delicious. Its profile is rare because it contains a relatively high amount of sodium for a vegetable, which imparts a natural saltiness. Yet it also maintains a remarkable crunch and sweet taste, further enhanced by the significant water content it contains. It is this combination of flavors that makes celery pair so well with both savory and sweet ingredients. Think of the typical dishes that utilize celery as an ingredient: ants on a log (salty peanut butter and sweet raisins), Waldorf salad (salty dressing and sweet apples), or creamy seafood salad (salty mayo dressing and sweet crabmeat) — it makes sense, as these salty/sweet combinations are inherently present in the celery itself.

Well, delicious as those dishes all may be, it’s time to let the celery speak for itself. Here is a recipe that features celery as the main ingredient and lets all the other ingredients act as the support system. Olives, oranges, and onions all team up with oregano and fresh lemon juice to create a Mediterranean-style salad just perfect for the warming days ahead. And yes, you will find the perfect balance of savory and sweet in this dish!

Go ahead and prep this salad in the morning — by the time lunch or dinner rolls around, the flavors will have married beautifully. Once you discover how worthy celery is of getting its own dish, you’ll be wondering why you wasted so much time on all those other silly vegetables for so long.

Mediterranean Celery Salad
1 bunch celery, leaves removed, stalks chopped
2 medium oranges, peeled and chopped
½ cup thinly sliced red onion
¼ cup Kalamata olives, pitted
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

1) Combine celery, oranges, red onion and olives in large bowl. In small mixing bowl, combine oil, lemon juice, and spices; whisk until smooth. Pour over salad and serve immediately or chilled.

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