Sunday, November 11, 2012

Use Those Celery Leaves!

Fresh celery leaves.
Since Hurricane Sandy hit in late October, my mother has been staying with me while her apartment is under repair. I'm very much enjoying her company, especially when we work together in the kitchen. Although I learned most of what I know about cooking from my mother, we do have our differences when it comes to certain things--like what to do with the leaves on celery stalks.

Today we're making a pot of vegetable soup. Mom is cleaning fresh celery stalks before mincing them to add to the soup. I see that she's prepared the large, outer stalks of the bunch and is now eyeing the more tender, smaller interior stalks that are topped with a dense cluster of beautiful, pale green leaves. I see her mental wheels turning. She's thinking, "I'll chop the leaves and put them in the soup."

That's certainly one good use for the leaves, but I have a couple of other ideas. I manage to snatch the leaves from under her knife just in time. She gives me a puzzled look. But I think she'll be happy with one of the alternatives I have in mind.

I'll Make a Fat-free Vegetable Stock

This is my first alternative idea. Celery leaves seem to be more intensely flavored than the stalks, and I like to use them to make a clear vegetable stock that has a strong celery overtone. Put these ingredients in a heavy-bottomed soup pot, cover them with water, and simmer for a couple of hours:

  • Inner stalks and all the leaves from a bunch of fresh celery
  • 1 Potato, washed, skin on, quartered
  • A couple of carrots, washed and cut into large chunks
  • 1 Onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 Green bell pepper, seeded and quartered
  • A bunch of fresh parsley, washed, stems and all
  • Salt and pepper to taste

When done, strain out the vegetable material (you may want to eat the veggies on the spot, especially the carrot and potato pieces!) and you are left with a beautiful, fat-free vegetable stock.

We'll Celebrate with a Couple of Bloody Marys

Let's have a Bloody Mary.
My second alternative idea is the one that should turn Mom's puzzlement into pleasure.

We have so many tender leafy stalks on that celery bunch that there are a few left over for enjoying a couple of Bloody Marys. For each Bloody Mary:

  • 1 Ounce vodka
  • 4 Ounces V-8 vegetable juice
  • Black peppercorns, freshly ground
  • Prepared horseradish
  • Ice
  • A Lemon wedge
  • Tender celery stalks with leaves
  • Stuffed olives on picks

Stir the vodka and V-8 together in a glass, fill with ice cubes, add the pepper and horseradish to the surface of the drink, and plunk in a tender, leafy celery stalk. Garnish with a lemon wedge hung on the glass's rim. Stir and enjoy.

Mom wasn't too pleased with my interfering with her knife--until I made the Bloody Marys.

When I was younger and didn't know better, I used to throw the celery leaves away.

No more.

Photo sources: Sally's Trove


  1. I used to throw the leaves away, too, until I finally realized that I could freeze them to be used later.

    1. Nancy, I've never frozen them. Thanks for the awesome tip. Those tender leaves and the stalks they come from would make great additions to soups any time of the year after having been frozen. Do you blanch them before freezing?

  2. I am loving the vision of you and your mother chopping and dicing celery in the kitchen-- I have a theory that cooking together is the kind of bonding experience for women that going into battle together is for men-- and for both men and women, a bloody mary is the perfect reward. Great post Sherri

  3. Always be sure to buy organic celery, as this is one of those plants that draws any toxins straight up into the stalks you're planning to eat! Will definitely keep in mind about those especially tender inner stalks & the leaves. I've always used them for soups, though it seems I never keep stock in stock, since the winter months usually involve making at least 2 soups a week in my house! Bone Broths are exceptionally healthy, so unless you're a vegetarian, by all means look into their benefits too. One quick note about them: is they are full of the collagen we women want to include for maintaining our looks, and our bodies!

    As for fat free, while it seems great, keep in mind that we actually need & use fat to help keep our brains in good working order & it also helps our joints, skin & hair to stay supple & healthy! It's not the enemy, it's been made out to be! And it adds great flavor to everything. When manufacturers eliminate fat from the products they make what they replace it with is sugar!

    Good fats in the diet are actually a good thing! If you don't prefer them in your food, then you really can benefit by adding them as a supplement, in the form of the Omega 3 fats, as a start, in the form of Borage Oil, Evening Primrose (more expensive though!)etc.

  4. Hi Sally! I'm so glad I found your blog here! I have wondered many times how to use the celery leaves, but usually just throw them away, no more! You have a great blog and now a new follower! :)