Celery tends to be an underrated veggie. But it’s a nutritious one worth adding to your plate. Here are 7 irresistible ways to serve it up.
You may think celery has little to offer in the way of flavor or nutrients, but not so. This high-fiber, water-filled vegetable is loaded with vitamins and minerals. It has antioxidants that may help lower inflammation. The fiber in celery may help support healthy digestion. Other compounds in celery may help support healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. And its high-water content can help you stay hydrated, too.
But if you’re like some folks, you may not be fond of celery’s texture or find it has a somewhat bland taste. Perhaps you buy it from time to time with the best intentions but then forget about it until it wilts in the crisper drawer.
Luckily, you can boost celery’s appeal by doctoring it in a range of ways that enhance its flavor and crunchy texture.
So, try one or more of these prep methods to give your celery a flavor boost you’ll find hard to resist.
1. Cook it. Sounds obvious, but celery can be added to just about any hot dish. It soaks up the flavors of any herbs, spices, or sauces you’re cooking with. Dice it for a crunchy addition to your stir-fry. Or add it to soups, stews, holiday stuffing, or when making vegetable stock. You might not think it, but cooked celery even works as a solo side all on its own. Try this braised diced celery dish for a flavorful, warm side of celery with dinner tonight.
2. Dice it. Raw, diced celery adds a crunchy counterpart to soft foods such as tuna salad, chicken salad, potato salad, or macaroni salad. You might also try mixing diced celery into cottage cheese for a little crunch as well.
3. Juice it. If you have a juicer, toss some celery in with apple, cucumber, ginger, or your other favorite fruits and veggies. Play around to see which combos taste best to you. You can also toss celery into your high-speed blender with other fruits, veggies, and nuts for a high-fiber, nutritious smoothie.
4. Peel it. Some people feel celery can be stringy. If so, try peeling it. Use either a potato peeler or a small, sharp paring knife. Peel the length of each stalk to remove the stringy outer layer. You may end up ridding your celery of some (but certainly not all) of its fiber content. But if the texture of peeled celery appeals to you more, go for it.
5. Marinate it. Celery is a blank canvas, which makes it perfect for soaking in your favorite vegetable stock or marinade. This prep method adds ample flavor and softens the celery if its crunchy texture is not your preference.
You can find veggie stock or marinades at the store or search for recipes online. Or you could make up your own. Here’s a simple recipe you might want to try:
Toss some finely diced garlic, along with your favorite herbs and spices, in a bowl. Add about 3 parts olive or safflower oil to 1 part balsamic or red wine vinegar. Whisk briskly. Add 4 to 5 stalks of washed, diced celery and some thin white onion slices.
Marinate for 2 hours in the fridge. Strain the celery and onions to remove most of the marinade. Top with crumbled feta cheese and chopped pecans for a tasty celery salad. Or marinate the celery with other veggies—try carrots, zucchini, and green beans. Then throw them into a hot skillet for a deeply flavorful stir-fry.
Feel free to play around with it and alter it to please your own palate.
6. Fill it. Dress your celery with these creamy fillings, many of which are high in protein:
- Nut butter. The tried-and-true classic of peanut butter and celery is a time-honored snack for many. You can top the peanut-butter filled stalks with a few raisins for “ants on a log,” which gives the stalks a sweet and nutty taste.
You can also swap the peanut butter with almond, cashew, or sun butter (made from sunflower seeds). Each kind of nut butter has its own distinctive flavor and texture. And pretty much any kind of nut butter will add a blast of protein and healthy polyunsaturated fat to your celery sticks.
Just make sure to check the labels on your nut butters. Avoid ones with added salt, sugar, palm or coconut oil, or trans fats.
- Hummus. For a Mediterranean twist, fill some celery stalks with your favorite hummus. Top with finely diced tomatoes, olives, roasted sunflower seeds, and a dash of smoked paprika for a savory, protein-rich snack.
- Spicy bean dip. Cook canned pinto or black beans in water until the beans are very soft—almost overcooked. Cool the beans and then add them, along with some water, to a food processor. Add some salsa. Sprinkle in some cumin and chili powder. Process until smooth and creamy. Fill your celery stalks with the bean dip and top with finely diced tomato, red onion, and cilantro.
- Mashed avocado. Avocado toast has become a hugely trendy breakfast staple and afternoon snack in recent years. Why not spread your avocado on celery instead of toast for a crunchy change of pace? Top your avocado-filled celery with a dash of salt and pepper. Or add some salsa or finely diced cilantro, onion, and tomato.
- Cheese. If you’re looking to create a tasty appetizer or just craving a small indulgence, try a soft cheese inside your celery. Camembert or Brie make rich and creamy fillings. Just go easy on the amount you add, as these cheeses tend to be high in calories.
Cream cheese and cottage cheese are also great options. And they pair well with both sweet and savory toppings. For a sweet counterpoint, fill some celery with cottage or cream cheese and top with finely diced pineapple or peach pieces. You can also mix the fruit with the cream or cottage cheese before filling your celery stalks.
For a savory flavor, fill your celery stalks with cream or cottage cheese and top with a sprinkling of sundried tomatoes and roasted sunflower seeds or pistachios.
7. Dip it. Dressing your celery stalks can be a bit labor- and time-intensive. If you’re not up for the task, try dipping cut celery sticks into these fillings instead. You can also use uncut celery stalks as a spoon for chicken or tuna salad, cottage cheese, or yogurt.
So, give celery another chance with one or more of these culinary tips. It will give you a wide range of tasty, nutritious options—from grab-and-go snacks and party appetizers to a crunchy accompaniment in stir-fry recipes, salads, soups, and more.
Still not feeling up for celery? Whip up a batch of this warm, comforting split pea soup.
This information is not intended to take the place of regular medical care or advice. Please check with your doctor before using this information or beginning any self-care program. Images used for this article do not depict any members of the Silver&Fit Program.
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This article was written by Gail Olson, edited by Jason Nielsen, and clinically reviewed by Elizabeth Thompson, MPH, RDN.