Garden, Plant, Cook!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

What To Make When You Have A LOT of Celery.

Dear Folks,

I grow celery - in the desert garden - and because I let it reseed each year I usually have a LOT of it this time of year.  Some of it is going into flower (and I will capture some seed later for my seed bank inventory), but right now I have a lot of fresh leaves.

What to do?  Most people do not think of celery as a vegetable, they think in terms of a bit of flavor for soups, stews, sandwich salads (Tuna, etc.).

Over a decade ago I developed a braised celery and cranberry dish for Thanksgiving and it was great.  I posted it here on the blog last fall.

However I have not done much with it since (outside of always adding to sandwich salads) except to dry to add to my pantry, and even make it a part of my homemade vegetable bouillon.

But now that I have no lettuce in the garden, and I have a LOT of celery I mulled what I could do with it.

I thought about using it "in place" of lettuce, so our lunch yesterday was a Bacon, Celery, Basil, Tomato sandwich with our apples on the side, on raisin toast :-)

I got to thinking about a celery leaf "pesto" and the Sweet Potato Linguine I have and dinner was now planned.  (The pasta is from locally producer DeCio Pasta in Tempe, and I purchased at the Mesa Community Farmers Market.  Great products with excellent ingredients.) Also pictured in the last farme, I sauteed up some sliced beets and beet tops (from the garden) for Deane as a side dish for him (he loves them, I'm slightly allergic to them).

Celery Pesto Pasta Primavera

This kind of dish is not about exact ingredient ratios, increase or reduce as you like.  I decided on a "raw" sauce created by chopping fresh tomatoes and onion and placing in a bowl, adding the "pesto" a dribble of olive oil, and salt and pepper.  Then when the pasta is done, drain quickly and add to bowl, let sit for a minute or two to heat the veggies and then toss.

Handful of celery leaves (substitute parsley or more basil if you do not have celery)
4 small sprigs of basil
2 small sweet peppers, cored and slivered
1-2 small tomatoes or 1 medium size, chopped
Scallion, 2 inch piece, minced
Parmesan Cheese, grated
Chopped walnuts
Linguine or Spaghetti (1-2 servings)
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a bowl, place chopped tomatoes and onion.

Rinse celery and basil, place in a blender or bullet grinder with a bit of water and buzz until ground up.  Drain, catching the water*.  Add to bowl, drizzle with a tablespoon or so of olive oil, add cracked black pepper and salt to taste.

Boil pasta according to directions.  In the last minute add the slivered peppers, stir to mix with pasta.  When done, drain, but leave slightly damp and immediately add to bowl.  Let sit for 1-2 minutes to allow the veggies to heat up.  Toss, plate up and top with Cheese and Walnuts.

Turned out great.  The sweet peppers added a note of sweetness to all the savory elements.

*This "herb" water contains a lot of flavor from the herbs/greens used, so I add it to my stock container in the freezer for the next stock making time.

So, what else can you use fresh celery leaves for?  Some nice ideas found on the internet:

Make a celery simple syrup -- ratio is 1/2 to 1 cup of rinsed celery leaves, 1 cup each sugar and water.  Bring water and sugar to a boil, stir until well dissolved, add celery and let steep until cool or overnight (to taste). Drain, discard the leaves and store the syrup in the frig for up to 1 week.
-----Use to make celery soda -- 1/4 cup of celery syrup, add 3/4 cup of cold seltzer or sparkling water, stir and enjoy.
-----Use as the simple syrup in any cocktail.  Combine with fresh mint for a different Mojito 

Use in place of parsley or lettuce in a recipe.

Substitute for Loveage (a celery flavored herb) in recipes. (Loveage is a far stronger flavored celery taste so adjust recipe when using celery.)

What new or old fashioned way have you used celery leaf?

. . .

Next Events Coming Up:

I am speaking at the monthly meeting at the Arizona Herb Association on June 2nd.  Topic is Stevia and Syrian Oregano.  Their business meeting starts at 7 p.m. and my talk will be approximately 8 p.m.  Great organization to join.

June 24, 2016, Friday, 9 a.m. - Noon
FREE Seed Share / Swap
Mesa Farmers Market

June 25, 2016, Saturday, 6 p.m.
Sow! 105? Yes!
Lecture at Mesa Urban Garden (MUG) on sowing in the summer
Free (consider donating to the garden or renting a bed)

. . .

Check out my books and calendar on Amazon.

Follow me on Facebook


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Into the 100s and Beyond in the Desert Garden - What to plant in June and July

Dear Folks,

For anyone wondering what if anything you can plant now, try these, going into and through June:

(Pictured is my Stevia (and some strawberry plants) last July 1st.)

June/ July PLANTING (Sowing):

Cucumber, Armenian
Luffa Gourd
Melons, Musk
Peas, Black Eyed
Peppers, Chiles
Portulaca (Moss Rose)
Potato, Sweet
Purslane (Portulaca X Hybrida)

Roselle -- (soak the seeds overnight and get them in the ground ASAP).

Using existing plantings you can under- seed with:

WEEK OF JULY 16TH Seeds Only Planting: Anise; Cantaloupe; Caraway; Chervil; Cilantro; Corn; Dill; Fennel; Luffa Gourds; Musk Melons; Parsley; Peppers; Pumpkins; Squash, Winter

WATERING: Higher humidity can reduce moisture loss to plants, reducing watering frequency, but check with water meter regularly.  It may sound strange but you can over water in the summer even on days in the 100s.

Some plants can go a little dormant in the summer, causing a root rot problem because of the extra water.  Sage is one.  Well draining soil helps mitigate this problem.

ALSO the extra water can deplete the iron availability to some plants (chlorosis) , so ironite or green sand can be used. (Future tip:  cold, damp soil in the winter can also cause chlorosis.)

SUNBURN damage:  Like frost damage - do not prune until danger of sunburn is over - the damaged plant protects the lower growth.

IF YOU are transplanting this time of year use leaf-type mulch to keep the soil surface cool around "but not touching" the transplant.

Give some thought to the beginning of the fall "sowing" season starting in the middle of July and into August.  If you want pumpkins for Halloween or Thanksgiving you have to count backwards 90 to 120 days.

Cool weather loving plants are triggered by cooling soil, the reverse of plants which like their feet warm like basil.

Check out my books and calendar on Amazon.

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-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

If you enjoyed this post, subscribe in the upper side bar link, to get all my posts!

Disclaimer: Clicking on links on this blog may earn me a small commission if you purchase something. Your price does not change.