Dan Main, author of the blog A Life in Food, suggests making your own celery salt. Chop up the leaves and stocks finely, and preheat the oven on its lowest temperature. Transfer the celery to a baking sheet and place in the oven for a few hours until dry. Grind in a spice or coffee grinder with regular salt in batches until combined. That's it!
Butter makes everything better — even celery. Main suggests a simple recipe for a popular French side dish that's practically effortless. (French and effortless are two words usually not found together in a sentence, at least when talking about cooking.) Heat up some chicken or vegetable broth, and melt some butter in a separate pan until the foam subsides. Then, add chopped celery and fry for about five minutes. Next, add a little Pernod (the secret) and the hot broth. Cook until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Voilà! You will, of course, have some leftover Pernod, but that's not the same "problem" as leftover celery…
Have some leftover braised celery and broth? If there's enough, Main suggests blending it up into a quick and easy cream of celery soup.
Here's another great idea from Main: Using a potato peeler, carefully shave long stalks of celery into ribbons. Work it into salads, or if you have a whole bunch, it can stand as a side dish on its own. Season it with some canola oil, dried red pepper flakes or finely chopped chiles, and some lemon juice.
Main's inspiration for this idea comes from Italy, where crispy fried celery is sometimes served as a side dish. Cut the celery lengthwise into 2- to 3-inch strips, dip it in a light batter, and fry in hot oil until golden. There's a lot of inherent moisture in celery, so it goes without saying, be careful with this one.
Main also offers an easy side dish inspired by Chinese regional cuisine: Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil (sesame oil is even better, for more flavor) until smoking, then pour the oil carefully over some finely chopped or shaved celery. Season immediately with toasted sesame seeds, salt, and rice vinegar. It's a great accompaniment to seafood dishes.
For a quick, Indian-inspired side dish, Main says to stir-fry chopped celery in a little oil with some finely chopped garlic, cumin, turmeric, and mustard seeds until fragrant and tender. Scatter some chopped cilantro on top and serve.
When life gives you lemons, [fill in the blank: eat a pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream, cook some bacon, hug some puppies, make pie, panic and run around like a headless chicken]. When life gives you celery, however, well… [awkward silence].
Luckily, once again, the French have an answer. Yes, the French. Haw-haw. One of the first things that probably pops into the mind of a French cook whenever they have extra celery, carrots, or onions is to make stock. A basic vegetable stock can lend body to soups and sauces, and if you have some leftover trimmings or bones from chicken, mushrooms, or tomatoes, as well as some aromatics like garlic, thyme, and black peppercorns, even better.
These days, it seems like you can pickle just about any fruit or vegetable (except, perhaps, for durian), and celery is no exception. It's easy to do, and pickled celery has a variety of uses. Chop it up and work it into salads, use it to put a twist on bloody marys, or use it to wake up your favorite tuna salad recipe.
When all else fails, make bloody marys. Use the celery sticks as stirrers, and if you made celery salt (see slide 1) or pickled celery (see slide 9), use it to add a little kick to your brunchtime favorite.
The leaves, if you're going to use them at all, should be bright green and crisp. They have an intense, concentrated celery flavor that works great in tomato sauce, soups, and salads. Try using a little bit in pesto as well to add some crisp, bright flavor, or if you're feeling adventurous and happen to have a bunch of celery leaves on hand, forget the basil and go all the way.