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Spotlight on celery.

Celery is often overlooked. Seldom a star at mealtime, this humble vegetable, however, finds its way into our diet in salads, soups, entrees, and as a favorite (almost) no-calories snack for nibblers.

Primitive celery was known for centuries only as a medicine--because that's how it tastes. Greeks crowned the heads of athletes with the vegetable, and during Plutarch's time, it served as a funeral wreath. In the 17th century, an unknown gardener in Italy, who set great store by celery as a cure-all, transplanted wild celery (then called "smallage") to a choice garden spot where the soil was deep and moist. To his amazement, the ribs and leaves of these plants offered a rather pleasing taste. A flavor so good, in fact, that the gardener's family began munching ribs of celery, even though they were perfectly healthy.

People have munched ever since. A half cup of diced celery tallies up only nine calories. It is virtually fat free--a dieter's delight.

When purchasing celery, look at the stalk. I should have a solid, firm feel and a glossy surface of light to medium green. Once celery is trimmed and washed, refrigerate it in a plastic bag and store in the vegetable drawer. To freshen a celery stalk, trim the base and place in cold water; to crisp wilted celery (both cut-up and whole), place in ice water.

Lean, green celery is the secret of these light salads for spring shape-up. Crunchy Caesar Celery Salad is a light and spicy version of an all-American favorite. a |90s update on a familiar classic, Turkey Waldorf Salad combines delicious vegetables, turkey breast, and diced apples in a non-fat yogurt dressing.

Turkey Waldorf Salad

(Makes 7 servings)

2 cups sliced celery 2 cups cooked small shell pasta 2 cups diced cooked or deli-style turkey breast (12 ounces) 2 cups diced unpeeled sweet apples 1/4 cup sliced scallions (green onions) 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted* Yogurt Dressing (recipe follows)

In a large bowl, combine celery with pasta, turkey, apple, scallions, and walnuts. Add Yogurt Dressing; toss to coat thoroughly.

* To toast walnuts: Place in small dry skillet over low heat until golden, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Yogurt Dressing: Combine 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt with 3 tablespoons each fat-free mayonnaise and cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons sugar and 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper.

Per Serving (1 cup): Calories: 216 Sodium: 156 mg Protein: 18.4 gm Cholesterol: 35 mg Fat: 5.8 gm Carbohydrate: 22.7 gm

Celery and Winter Fruit Salad

(Makes 6 servings)

3 cups celery cut in 1/2-inch pieces 1 cup orange segments cut in 1-inch pieces 1 cup red or green apple cut in 1/2-inch pieces 1 cup seedless red or green grape halves 1/2 cup vanilla low-fat yogurt 1 tablespoon honey 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel 3 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted*

In large bowl, combine celery, orange segments, apple, and grapes. In small bowl, combine yogurt, honey, and lemon peel. Just before serving, toss fruits with yogurt mixture. Sprinkle with toasted almonds.

* To toast almonds: Place in dry skillet over low heat; cook and stir until golden, about 2 minutes.

Per Serving (1 cup): Calories: 114 Sodium: 66 mg Protein: 2.7 gm Cholesterol: 1 mg Fat: 2.8 gm Carbohydrate: 19.3 gm

Crunchy Caesar Celery Salad

(Makes 8 servings)

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided 1 teaspoon minced garlic 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning 2 cups Italian bread cut in 1/2-inch cubes 4 ounces turkey breast, chopped 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 4 cups celery cut in 1/2-inch pieces 1 cup diced sweet red bell pepper 1/2 small head romaine lettuce 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350?F. In medium bowl, combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Add bread cubes; toss to coat; arrange on baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes; set aside. Blend together vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons oil until mixture is smooth. In large bowl, toss together celery, red bell pepper, turkey breast, croutons, and dressing. On serving platter, arrange romaine lettuce leaves; spoon celery mixture over lettuce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Per Serving (1 cup): Calories: 151 Sodium: 170 mg Protein: 7.4 gm Cholesterol: 11 mg Fat: 6.8 gm Carbohydrate: 15.4 gm

Celery Salad Signor Antonio

(Makes 6 servings)

1 stalk celery 2 tablespoons olive oil 3 tablespoons cider vinegar 1 teaspoon basil leaves, crumbled 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1/4 cup diced turkey 1 tomato, cut into 6 wedges

Trim off leaves and base from celery (save tops for soups, stews, etc.). Separate celery into ribs. Cut ribs into 1-inch by 1/4-inch strips (makes about 6 cups). Place celery in large bowl. Combine oil, vinegar, basil, and black pepper. Pour over celery. Add Parmesan cheese and turkey; toss well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Place in salad bowl. Surround with tomato wedges. Garnish with celery leaves, if desired.

Per Serving (1 cup): Calories: 97 Sodium: 172 mg Protein: 4.3 gm Cholesterol: 7 mg Fat: 6.1 gm Carbohydrate: 6.1 gm
COPYRIGHT 1992 Saturday Evening Post Society
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes recipes
Author:Peters, Michael
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:May 1, 1992
Previous Article:Taking exercise in stride.
Next Article:The better brunch.

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