Hey, What’s Cookin’?
Celery is a humble mainstay of most kitchens, along with carrots and onions. Traditionally, it’s deployed as an aromatic; that is, a vegetable used as a flavor base for cooking, usually by sautéeing. It’s always in a supporting role, such as in pasta, egg, or potato salad or along with onions and garlic in a soup base, but never is a star on its own.
Celery is such a cheap and basic part of our food supply that we tend to think of it as a low-nutrient choice (just like iceberg lettuce). But celery stalks (also called ribs) are rich in cellulose, a complex carbohydrate found in the cell wall of plants that is edible but indigestible to humans. Celery is very low in calories and carbohydrate. One medium stalk contains only 6 calories and 1.2 grams of carbohydrate. Half of the carbohydrate content in celery comes from fiber, making it a good source of fiber. Celery is also an excellent source of Vitamin K and a good source of Vitamin A, potassium, and folate.
So the Recipe of the Week features celery in a starring role, in Celery and Pork Stir-Fry. Serve it over cauliflower “rice” and you’ll enjoy a traditional Asian dish with a bit of a twist!
Celery and Pork Stir-Fry
Adapted from: a recipe by Joy Manning via the Hartford Courant
- 2 tbs water
- 1 tbs sugar
- 1 tbs Chinklang black vinegar (can substitute 1 tbs balsamic vinegar)
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp corn starch
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tbs grapeseed oil (it has a higher smoking point than cannola or olive)
- 4 dried chilles, crumbled (discard seeds to make it less spicy)
- 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
- 5 medium ribs (stalks) celery, sliced thinly on the diagonal
- 1 green bell pepper, deseeded and cut into thin strips
- 3 large cloves garlic; sliced thin
- 1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced thin
- 6 scallions, sliced into divided piles of white and green sections
- 8 ounces ground pork
- 1/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
- kosher salt
- cauliflower rice; prepared and kept warm
- Whisk together the water, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, corn starch and sesame oil in a bowl.
- Heat the grapeseed oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add the red chilles and Sichuan peppercorns; stir-fry for about 1 minute until the chilles darken slightly.
- Add the celery and green pepper; stir fry for 3 to 4 minutes until crisp-tender. Add the garlic, ginger, and white parts of the scallion and stir-fry an additional 1 minute until fragrant. Transfer to a bowl.
- Add the pork to the skillet and cook, breaking up the meat as you stir-fry it, about 5 minutes, until browned. Add the celery mixture back to to the pan and stir to combine.
- Stir the sauce and pour it over entire skillet, then mix to coat all ingredients.
- Taste for salt and adjust if needed, sprinkle peanuts over all, and serve over cauliflower rice.
Notes: You can substitute an equal amount of ground turkey or chicken for the pork, if you prefer.
Photograph via G. Kosanovich for The Washington Post