Celery, oh celery! Let’s face it, celery probably isn’t the kind of vegetable that makes you jump up and down with excitement. So bear with me as I try to convince you that this dish is not your average celery stick dipped in ranch sauce, like an edible spoon. Celery has a unique flavor that seems like it’s always best paired with something else: ranch dressing, nut butter, hummus, or various dips. To make matters worse, celery seems to be an obligatory ingredient in those ever-so-popular smoothies, perhaps to compensate for the sugar content in your “healthy” smoothie!
Not only did I not like celery growing up, I never really enjoyed it much as an adult – until I went to cooking school! There we learned how to treat this vegetable properly and make it shine on its own or be a complementary ingredient in a dish. Add it to salads for a beautiful crunch, or cook it and transform it into a cream soup.
This Persian stew is a very popular dish and remarkably flavorful with very few ingredients. Celery is sauteed on its own to enhance its flavor, then combined with herbs, beef and broth to bring magic to this dish!
Celery and beef stew
- 8 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lbs stew beef, cut into 1.5 inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 ½ cups water
- 1 bunch celery, about 10 celery stocks
- 3 cups fresh parsley, finely chopped (only the tough part of the stem removed)
- 1/2 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon dry mint (optional)
- 3 whole limu omani, poked with a knife (Persian dried limes)
- In a large pot, heat half of the olive oil and saute the onions for about 10 minutes.
- Add, garlic stewed meat, salt, pepper and turmeric and saute for an additional 5 minutes.
- Add water, bring to a gentle simmer, cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.
- While the beef is simmering, in a large frying pan add the remainder of the olive oil and saute the celery pieces over medium heat for 15 minutes.
- Once celery has slightly softened and picked up some color, add the chopped fresh parsley and mint and saute for an additional 10 minute to remove some of the moisture and enhance the flavor of the herbs. Add the dried mint, mix into the mixture and remove from the heat.
- Mix this celery and herb mixture with the beef stew, add the dried Persian limes, cover and cook for 1.5 hours over low heat.
- The stew should be fragrant with the herbs and the dried lime and the meat and celery tender.
- Serve with Persian saffron basmati rice and a side of plain yogurt or Maast-khiar (yogurt, cucumber, mint and rose petals).