Celery is more assertive than we usually think it is, and I don’t mean that in a good way. I mean it does its level best to make every food it comes in contact with just as bland as itself. And I’m talking about the organic celery we get in our weekly vegetable bin, which is the least bland I’ve ever tasted. If celery is your favorite healthy snack or something, I’m sorry, but even you probably like it better with dip.
That said — it’s not that I never use celery in cooking. After all, it’s healthy, and crunchy enough to add much needed texture to sandwich fillings like tuna salad. I’m just careful to pair it with another ingredient, and preferably several of them, that can stand up to it. Onions, garlic, peppers, and tomatoes are good, adding up to a pasta sauce that can almost qualify as a vegetable side dish. So are soy sauce, ginger, and other stir-fry standbys. And of course there’s chili.
But when it comes to appetizers, our focus this week, the most popular way to go with celery — besides just cutting it into sticks and setting it out next to a bowl of dip — is to stuff the stalks with some creamy but firm filling. Cream cheese, pimento cheese, even mayonnaise mixed with shredded cheddar have been used, and anything that won’t drip will work. It should also be flavorful (for reasons I noted above), so fillings have been seasoned with anything from bacon and garlic to dried fruit.
I looked to Mexico for flavor — well, to a commercial guacamole anyway. You could use homemade if it’s thick enough. From there, I just carefully piled on everything I’d put on a taco — except salsa (too liquid). If you really miss the salsa, you could mix a little with cream cheese and build the filling on that, but that would be another recipe.
- 1 stalk celery
- About 1 tsp. guacamole
- About ½ tsp. sour cream
- About 1 tsp. shredded sharp cheese
- 1 grape or cherry tomato
- Trim the celery, wash, and dry.
- If stalk won’t lie flat, cut a very thin slice off the outer curve so it does.
- Using the smallest spoon available (I used the ¼ teaspoon from my set of measuring spoons), fill the center of the celery stalk with guacamole.
- Smooth the top.
- Spread sour cream on top of guacamole.
- Sprinkle with shredded cheese.
- Slice tomato into 4-6 rounds and lay them on top of celery, leaving space to cut between them.
- Cut stalk into small pieces, each with one tomato slice in center.