Posts tagged celery

Raw Citrus Salad


f you’ve been (un)lucky enough to experience the heat wave that swept the UK last week then you’ll probably agree that appetites change from being food dominant to a welcome craving for frosty, cold and delicious beers. Iced rose if thats more your thing, or perhaps just a freshly made lemonade in the sunshine. However, food still has its place but freshness, lightness and nothing too heavy takes the culinary crown. This salad was perfect after what was probably the hottest day of the year so far. After trawling over London for a meeting – which at the time felt dramatically reminiscent of a desert voyage – I was in no fit state for cooking anything too warm later that evening….

This therefore seemed the perfect opportunity to make a fresh salad but one to replenish the nutrients. And time to crack out an ingredient that’s been waiting patiently in my pantry for the past few months. A little gift from overseas from the Norwegian’s.  I’ve not seen a oil like this before but have been delighting in it since. Whilst I’ve tried flavoured oils in the past which I’ve found to be either bland or synthetic, this little oil/balsamic combo – mandarin oil with an epic peach and apricot balsamic – served neat and combined in equal measures with some crusty bread for dipping was amazing! I instantly thought seafood, fennel, and raw salads….after thoughts of frosty beers and rose. I did mention it was very hot…

With a lack of garden space or even a balcony in London (sympathy welcomed) there was sadly no place for a BBQ here. But if you do then this would be an amazing salad served with charred barbecued squid or octopus. Or keep it simple and griddle your asparagus or sea bass. The smoky bbq flavour is perfect for anything citrus here.

Like I said, its a meal for a hot day…minimal effort, more an assembly of flavours. Feel free to add in any other ingredients of choice or fish and seafood.

*NOTE – if you’ve no time to pop to Norway for these delights, a really good extra virgin olive oil with either a generous squeeze of lemon/lime/orange would work a treat. Try adding a few very thin slices of orange segments or grated zest too. Blood orange if you’re feeling extravagant.

Serve 2

  • 2 celery sticks, finely sliced
  • 1 bunch asparagus spears
  • 1 bulb fennel, sliced wafer thin (using a mandolin if you have one)
  • 1 handful walnuts, toasted and lightly crushed
  • Small bunch fresh basil and mint, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon/orange/lime
  • Extra virgin olive oil and 1 orange OR flavoured citrus oil or equivalent to above
  • 2 sea bass fillets (or as above, squid, octopus etc)
  1. Hest a frying pan/griddle pan to medium high and add a splash of light olive oil. Griddle the asparagus spears to just take off the rawness for a few minutes until beginning to char. Season and remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the celery, shaved fennel, toasted walnuts and finely chopped herbs.
  3. When the asparagus spears have cooled a little, add them to bowl.
  4. Season and grate in the zest of half the lemon.
  5. The next bit if up to you. Add the citrus oil, and the juice of half a lemon or add the juice of an orange/lime and some plain, extra virgin olive oil. Its all about taste. You need a fresh citrus flavour but it needs to be balanced.
  6. Set aside once done. Fry your fish and serve atop your fresh salad.

I served mine alongside some roasted carrots …I’ll admit this isn’t supporting the cooling and ‘non hassle’ trend I championed above. What can I say, the frosty beer worked a treat…

  • Slice 2-3 large carrot into chunky diagonal chunks
  • Season and drizzle with olive oil
  • Scatter with 1 tbsp of cumin seeds
  • Roast for about 25 minutes until starting to caramelise and soften. Check after this time and leave in longer if needed.
  • 5 minutes before they look ready, add 1 btsp running honey and combine. roast for 5 more minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and served, slightly cooled, with your citrus salad (also lovely to add chopped parsley and crumbled feta/goats cheese)


Celery Soup




I first saw this recipe on a recent cookery show. ‘Which show?’ you might be wondering in bemusement because to me it feels as if television has become hostage to culinary ‘entertainment’ over the past year or so. And as a foodie I’ve ironically become frustrated and uninterested in them. We’re getting mixed messages about how cooking can be express-train fast (Jamie ahem…) using (expensive) pre-bought and usually additive laden ingredients. In utter confliction we’re being patronisingly taught that we can all cook to a budget if we spend a little more time in the kitchen and buy sensibly. As if this wasn’t a mixed enough message chefs are instructing us to be eating healthily and avoiding manufactured pre bought goods! And finally at the end of all these mantras we’re smacked round the face with a diabetes inducing screenful of cake and butter and ‘comfort food’? Rant over, this is one of the reasons I’ve avoided foodie programmes. However, like I said, I recently caught an episode of Tom Kerridge trying his hand at TV chef (cringe….sorry Tom). I’ve always admired his honest hearty cooking but when I saw a soup made of celery and his trimmed down physic I did wonder if he’d fallen off the foodie wagon. But don’t panic! Tom doesn’t let you down on sustenance….trust his gusty recipe and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Light and delicate in flavour but a wonderfully filling and satisfying soup it makes a change from the usual suspects…

Serves 4

  • 1 sliced onion
  • 2 grated garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 small potato, diced
  • 1 litre hot chicken stock
  • 1kg celery, chopped (leaves reserved for garnish)
  • Bunch chives or flatleaf parsley
  • About 4 tbsp mascarpone cream
  1. Start by heating the rapeseed oil in a heavy based saucepan. When hot soften the onion for 5-10 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a further few minutes.
  2. Add the diced potato and cool for 3-4 minutes to soften. Then add the hot stock and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for about 8 minutes or so until the potato is soft.
  3. Add the celery and continue to simmer for a further 5 minutes of so until soft.
  4. Using a hand blender, puree the soup until smooth and velvety. Add the mascarpone and the herbs and plenty of seasoning to taste.
  5. Blend again and serve, topped with a little rapeseed oil and a scattering of extra chives/parsley and some celery leaves.

Celery, Pistachio and Red Onion Halloumi Salad

I absolutely love halloumi and seem to eat it for the majority of my lunches. Served on salad, in couscous, with lentils or stuffed between the warm toasted arms of a fluffy pitta and some punchy herbs its always welcome. The weather today was shockingly poor but I fancied salad regardless. This is a fresh and satisfying one if your stuck for inspiration…

Serves 2

  • 1 little gem
  • A few large handfuls of mixed leaves -rocket, watercress, spinach
  • Small bunch of coriander, chopped
  • 2 slicks celery, sliced thinly on diagonal
  • Handful pistachios
  • ½ red onion, sliced in half moons
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • ½ lemon
  • 1 slice stale bread, cubed (sourdough works best)
  • 1 tsp spice mix (see note), optional
  • 200g approx halloumi cheese, sliced
  1. Place the red onion slices in a shallow bowl and cover with the red wine vinegar and 1 tsp of salt.
  2. Pick the outer leaves from the little gems and cut the heart into quarters. Mix together in a large serving bowl with the salad leaves, coriander, celery, pistachios and seasoning.
  3. Heat a frying pan until hot. Add a small splash of oil and fry the halloumi slices for a few minutes each side until golden brown. Remove and drain on kitchen roll and set aside
  4. Add the cubed bread to the hot pan with a little more oil if needed. Season and scatter with the spice mix (alternatively, use a tsp of cumin seed, fennel seed or like etc). Toast until golden and crisp.
  5. Dress the salad with the lemon juice and a generous glug of extra virgin olive oil. Drain the red onions and scatter on top.
  6. Serve scattered with your warm toasted croutons and fried halloumi!

imageNOTE: My spice mix contains the following spices, toasted in a hot frying pan until fragrant and ground in a pestle and mortar.

  • 1 tbsp fennel seed
  • 1 tbsp cumin seed
  • 1 tbsp coriander seed
  • 1 tbsp fenugreek seed
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick, snapped in half
  • 3 cardamon pods
  • 1 star anise