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Roast The Stalks For A Softer And Sweeter Way To Enjoy Celery

celery bunch with sliced stalks
celery bunch with sliced stalks - ArtCookStudio/Shutterstock

A famous negative calorie food, celery stalks are a crunchy and refreshing addition to crudites, salads, and smoothies. Cooking them only concentrates their unique vegetal flavor, which accounts for their widespread use as one of the three defining ingredients in the Creole holy trinity and French mirepoix. However, instead of dunking celery into a bowl of ranch dressing or using it as a flavorful base for a soup, you can make it the star ingredient by roasting the stalks.

Roasting vegetables transforms them into richer, softer versions of themselves. Roasting celery is one of the more delicious transformations you'll encounter. Raw celery's sharp vegetal taste and stringy, fibrous crunch turn into a sweet, subtly earthy, and melt-in-your-mouth tender roasted veggie. The easiest and most basic way to roast celery is to roast the entire bunch. Simply trim off the tops and leaves and cut the bunch in half lengthwise. Drizzle each half with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and assemble cut-side down on a baking sheet so that the thickest stalks are exposed to the brunt of your oven's heat. You can also cut the stalks into bite-sized pieces. If you want to cook celery at higher temperatures with other root vegetables, you can roast them in a baking dish with a thin layer of broth, oil, vinegar, and seasonings. Celery's sweet, comforting flavor and tender bite just might become your new favorite side dish.

Read more: 30 Absolute Best Snacks From Trader Joe's, Ranked

Flavor Pairings And Dishes For Roasted Celery Stalks

celery baked into cornbread stuffing
celery baked into cornbread stuffing - Nina Firsova/Shutterstock

You may have eaten a bite of sweetened, roasted celery in a Thanksgiving stuffing. However, the novel taste and texture make for an even tastier side dish that you can further enhance with dressings, garnishes, and countless seasoning combinations. The caramelized sweetness and underlying earthiness would work wonderfully with a bright and tangy vinaigrette or a sprinkle of feta cheese. For crunch, sprinkle toasted pine nuts or crispy bacon with creamy feta.

You can also use celery stalks in a roasted vegetable medley alongside potatoes, carrots, beets, and rutabaga. Drawing inspiration from its use as a foundation for creole and cajun cooking, you can serve roasted celery as a side dish for crawfish etouffee or as a topping for dirty rice. It'll make an elegant substitute for asparagus drizzled with lemon butter to accompany a fancy steak dinner. Roasted celery would also taste delicious in a grain bowl over wild rice, quinoa, barley, or farro with a drizzle of tahini sauce. You could serve it over a bed of French lentils with browned mushrooms for a burst of different savory flavors.

Roasting celery isn't just for the stalks. If you're a fan of celery root, or celeriac, there's no better way to showcase its flavor and texture than to roast it in chunks or slices. It'll have a heftier texture akin to parsnip or potato, with a sweeter, more vegetal flavor than celery stalk.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.