Celery—so divisive! I honestly don’t know what it is about the noisily crunchy stalks, but some of my favorite people absolutely hate the stuff. Because I’m stubborn, I keep trying to come up with recipes that will turn the haters into lovers. Deploying bacon and peanuts seemed like a good place to start.
Fennel or Brussels sprouts for the celery
Omit the celery and double the cabbage
Kohlrabi or cauliflower (thinly sliced) for the cabbage
Pancetta or pork sausage meat for the bacon
Hot sauce for the chile oil
- Cut celery stalks crosswise on a long diagonal into ¼-inch pieces. Snap off the light green celery leaves from the innermost stalks and set those aside.
- Place bacon in a large cold skillet, then place over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until bacon renders most of its fat and starts to curl up and turn golden but is nowhere near crisp, about 5 minutes. Add peanuts, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring frequently, until peanuts take on some color, about 2 minutes. Add celery and cabbage, season lightly with salt, and cook, tossing, just until celery is browned in spots but still crunchy, and the cabbage is bright green and tender, but still has some bite to it, about 4 minutes. Add soy sauce and vinegar and toss through.
- Transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle with chile oil and top with reserved celery leaves.
Reprinted with permission Where Cooking Begins by Carla Lalli Music, copyright © 2019. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Photography credit: Gentl and Hyers © 2019