Growing up, chef Deb Mikhail dreaded eating her mother’s khoresh karafs. The Iranian braised celery dish was a staple of her family’s vegetarian Shabbat dinners, but she hated it. “It was just like…a celery stew,” she says. But after trying a “cool” dish of burrata and celery at Nancy Silverton’s Mozza Bar, she decided to give celery another shot, asking herself “how do I turn something I don’t like into something I do like?”
In Nancy Silverton’s cooking class for YesChef — a subscription-based streaming platform offering cinematic cooking classes taught by world-renowned chefs — she and Mikhail tackle that question, and create a dish that seems impossible to dislike. Silverton peels fibrous celery (did you know you were supposed to peel celery?) and slices it on the bias, while Mikhail caramelizes onions in olive oil with some bay leaves to draw out their sweet flavors. Then the celery is added, along with fresh parsley and mint, dried Persian lime, and turmeric, which all serve to highlight the celery’s refreshing flavor and bite.
The result is a rich stew that would be more than enough as a centerpiece for any dinner, served with yogurt or perhaps, as a nod to Silverton, fresh burrata. — Jaya Saxena
Stewed Celery With Herbs and Persian Lime
2 bunches celery stalks, rinsed and leaves reserved
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more to taste
Black pepper, freshly ground
1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 cup water, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons ground Persian lime
1 bunch fresh mint leaves
1 bunch fresh Italian parsley
Step 1: Peel the celery stalks and cut them on a bias, about ¼-inch thick; set aside.
Step 2: Heat a large sauté pan or cast-iron enamel pot over medium heat and coat with the olive oil.
Step 3: When the oil is hot, add the onion, salt, black pepper, and bay leaf.
Step 4: Cook and stir until the onions are lightly caramelized and golden, but not too dark, about 10 minutes.
Step 5: Stir in the turmeric until it’s incorporated into the ovens and the color is evenly distributed.
Step 6: Add the celery and sauté until well-coated in the onions, about 1 minute.
Step 7: Pour in the water and reduce the heat to low.
Step 8: Stir in the Persian lime and season again with salt.
Step 9: Cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes, until the celery is translucent but still crisp.
Step 10: Stir in the mint, parsley, and additional water, depending on how much water the celery has absorbed — you may need to add more water a little at a time. If you add too much the celery will become too mushy, but if you don’t add enough it will burn. It should be crunchy, salty, and acidic when you taste it; the entire cooking process takes about 35 minutes.
Step 11: Serve the celery in the pan or transfer to a decorative plate.