I buy celery very infrequently. When I do it’s because there’s something specific I’m making with it. But then you have the rest and what does one do with bendy, rubbery celery? I make soups and stocks, salads, etc with whatever I have left in the fridge. The problem is, there’s only so often I want celery and it’s hard to get through it all before it gets completely rubbery. So I “refresh it”. Refreshing celery is a real live thing. Seriously. It’s a great trick that everyone should know. Apparently though, there are non-believers when it comes to this trick.
We all have our quirks, our rules, our ways of wanting things to be done. A long time ago, when living with Lieutenant Jackass there were lots of “rules”: don’t put just 1 bite of food back in the fridge (yes, I do that and YES I always come back to that perfect last bite), don’t eat half of a piece of fruit and put it back (okay, sometimes it does get tossed), rubbery celery should get trashed, and so on. In order to not strangle either of us, I often made up songs about these rules. One such song was called, “I can put my banana in the dang fridge if I want to” and another was called “Refresh My Celery”.* I sing my little ditty as I dice my perfectly crisped celery.
So, when you think your celery has seen better days, simply stick it in a cup of ice water for a few minutes. Flip it over so both ends have a chance to soak up some ice water. And then voila, refreshed celery. All you naysayers, try it!
As fascinating as celery refreshing is, I do actually have a recipe for today. Lentil salad is a delicious and cooling summer dish and can use any number of vegetables and sauces to change it up each time you make it. Here I made small green lentils with celery, cucumber, pesto, and green beans, with more secrets and surprises along the way…
Summertime Lentil Salad
1 1/2 cups French green lentils (these and black lentils hold their shape best when making salads)
10-12 green beans, cut into bite size pieces
2 refreshed celery stalks
1 cucumber, peeled and deseeded
1-2 tablespoons seedy mustard
salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil
splash of lemon juice or red wine vinegar
Cook the lentils according to the package. For the last 1 minute of cooking, add the green beans. Strain beans and lentils together. Green beans will hold their shape and keep a nice crunch. Let cool in strainer while you prepare the other ingredients.
Chop celery, leaves included, and the cucumber into small pieces. Toss in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of pesto, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and a splash of vinegar. Mix thoroughly and taste for salt and pepper. I do the mixing before adding the lentils so that I don’t have to mess with the lentils too much. That way, they keep their shape and don’t get too amalgamated with the other ingredients.
*To be fair, I should point out that Mr. G did actually supply me with the cucumbers and dill for this dish.