A bushy head of celery with its leaves intact is quite spectacular and almost twice the size of a regular, chopped bunch from a supermarket. The stems tail off into broad, aromatic and savoury leaves that can be used as a herb to add depth to a soup or stew, or chopped up into a robust and bitter leaf salad.
Even a beheaded bunch of celery has a few leaves tucked inside its core: pale, sweet and delicious. Use these leaves, the core and celery butt, thinly sliced, to add crunch and aroma to a salad. If your market stall or supermarket doesn’t stock whole celery, ask them to. I know from experience that just a few requests will prompt them to consider it.
I’d always thought celery salt must involve a complex process, so I was surprised to learn how simple it is to make. This versatile condiment will keep indefinitely, and just a pinch will boost the flavour of a dish, much as a stock cube does. Dry the leaves in a low oven or hang them up, then pulse them with a little salt for just a second, or pound in a mortar.
Celery leaf salad with walnut dressing
Take a handful of celery leaves and stalks from the top or core, then bunch them up and chop into 2-3cm pieces. Make croutons with a crust of stale bread: cut it into batons, toss in a little oil, bake or fry until golden brown, and finish with a sprinkle of salt. To make the dressing, crush a handful of nuts with a small clove of garlic, a pinch of chilli flakes, salt, pepper, a dash of vinegar and good oil. Turn everything together with a few slices of apple, and serve.