Last week's Portlandia episode was all about how celery has fallen behind a lot of other new "buzz" veggies like brussel sprouts, kale, and cauliflower, and how Steve Buscemi, the celery rep, was trying to get celery back on the map. I always love Portlandia, but when they make fun of food culture it makes me laugh even more. I decided to take this celery issue into my own hands and try and make a trendy blogger type dish with celery. My trendy blogger style dish failed, and a cocktail I made was just ok, but this celery loaded pasta was amazing. It's not gonna go viral anytime soon or dig celery out of its hole, but it's a great and unique dish which opened my eyes to caramelized celery.
So for my trendy blogger dish I wanted to try and bake the celery core with some bacon and blue cheese.
This looked promising. I put it into a really hot oven.
The celery gets SOOOOOOO fiberous. It becomes almost impossible to even bite through.
I mean, we ate this whole thing because bacon and blue cheese is really good, but it was pretty hard to chew.
To keep with the celery theme, I made this alton brown recipe for celery soda and added some vodka to it.
You basically make a celery seed simple syrup.
Strain it out.
Add the syrup and vodka.
Then top with soda water. This was decent but a little too sweet. It would have been a lot better if I used less sugar in the syrup, but I wanted to follow the recipe and see how it came out.
Ok on to the pasta. I really think that caramelized celery was the star of the dish. It tastes like the meat of this vegetarian dish.
I juiced celery to cook the pasta in for this dish, but I don't this it was essential to the final flavor. I do think it made a difference, but not an essential one. If you make this at home, I would say just get a cup of celery juice instead of a few quarts, and just add it to the sauce at the end.
Oh man. Caramelized celery. It kind of looks like bugs.
The pasta goes right into the sauce with about a cup of the reserved celery pasta cooking liquid.
Stir in some cheese and the celery leaves.
Really really good pasta. A sprinkle of celery salt brings everything together.
And so much celery flavor! Celery, you don't need bacon to be awesome. Just be yourself!
I cooked this pasta in celery juice, and while I do think it added a nice flavor to the pasta, I don't think it is essential to the dish. You could use a cup of celery juice and pour it in at the last minute instead of the pasta cooking liquid to get a bit more celery flavor without having to juice 5 celery heads.
6 celery heads
1 pound pasta
3 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic
1 14oz can diced tomato
1/4 cup cream
1/2 cup parm
Gather and chop about 1 cup of the leaves from the celery. Chop about 4 cups of celery just into about 1/2 inch "C's" Juice the rest of the celery. Put the celery juice into a pot and add a little water if needed, bring to a boil. Dice the garlic. Cook the celery in the butter for about 35 minutes until very browned. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cream and lightly simmer. Drop the pasta and cook al dente. Reserve 2 cups of pasta water. Strain the pasta and stir into the sauce. Add as much pasta water as needed (I used about a cup and a quarter). Remove from heat and stir in the celery leaves and the parm. Serve with celery salt.