I guess the wearin’ of the green holiday tomorrow has me thinking green-green vegetables. I, of course, thought about broccoli, asparagus, peas, green beans, and turnip greens. Then I thought about a green vegetable that usually is not the center of attention-celery. In fact when I told hubby I was writing about celery, he laughed and then said, “so you’re writing about nothing.” See, not exactly an attention getter. Although I use celery as a seasoning all the time, I’m not one of those who like to crunch on it raw. Celery sticks filled with pimento cheese or chicken salad always look so appealing at parties, but I just can’t bring myself to bite into raw celery. I can, however, bring myself to enjoy the crisp taste of celery in this bruschetta.
I never thought of celery as a vegetable side or main attraction until I came up with this recipe. It’s a shame, because every time I make this I am reminded just how wonderful celery can be. We are fortunate to have a vacation home and this recipe came out of a last day fridge cleaning. It was what we had leftover-a bell pepper, onion, garlic, celery, bread, and leftover spaghetti sauce. We had already eaten all the spaghetti and meatballs. I have to admit that at first I thought of just feeding the celery to the wildlife instead of cooking it. But as I was thinking of the leftovers, I thought about how much we love okra and tomatoes and thought, why not do the same with the celery? It turned out to be one of our favorite ways to enjoy celery. The celery and tomato sauce makes a quick bruschetta, but also makes a wonderful side dish or main meal served over polenta or leftover white beans.
Put your TO COOK IS TO CREATE Thinking Cap On: No leftover spaghetti sauce? Use a can of tomatoes. Have leftover spaghetti meat sauce or spaghetti with sausage? Bonus-an even heartier bruschetta. Like black olives? Add them the last-minute of cook time. Cheese lover? Spread crostini with goat cheese or top bruschetta with fresh mozzarella. What other vegetables would be good to add? Carrots are a tasty choice. How about adding sliced mushrooms? No fresh basil? No problem, reduce amount and use dried basil or Italian seasoning blend. Think about what flavors and seasonings is in your leftover spaghetti sauce and adjust accordingly. I have even used leftover chicken cacciatore for this recipe to rave reviews. Even if you don’t have a full cup of leftover spaghetti sauce, even 1/4 cup and one celery stalk is enough for a snack.
Remember if your celery is wilted and soft, it can be revived. Cut a little bit off root end, put in glass of ice water, chill for a couple of hours or overnight. Notice straight stalks in the picture after only two hours. Don’t forget to use the celery leaves in cooking, too, or even snipped fresh onto this bruschetta.