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Stewed Celery with Herbs & Persian Lime

Nancy Silverton

Lesson time 14 min

This traditional Iranian recipe is taught with the help of Nancy’s friend, chef Deb Mikhail, and adds an unexpected dimension to the overall class. The recipe was inspired by Nancy’s celery and burrata dish at Mozza Bar, a plate that Deb said proved to her that “celery can actually be cool.” Doctored up with turmeric, crushed Persian lime and fresh mint, this dish is bright and vibrant.

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– We’ll make the celery stew marinade with Persian lime, celery, parsley, mint, and turmeric. – [Nancy] All right, onions. – [Debbie] Onions! This recipe is a traditional Iranian recipe. – What is the celery called again? The dish? I’ll never pronounce it, but– – [Debbie] It’s called khoresh karafs, but I grew up in a vegetarian home, so my mother would make the stew for Shabbat, but I hated it! ‘Cause it was like over, it was just like a celery stew and I was like, God, how do I take this thing that I don’t like, and turn it into something that I do like? – [Nancy] Interesting. – Okay, celery! Nancy, do you have a peeler? – Yeah. – Please. – Here you go. – Thank you. – And you want a bowl for these? – Yeah, I have one bowl right here. – Okay. This dish, I just loved it. It was such a surprise. I’ve never had anything that tasted like it. What is the seasoning in that? – So this dish is actually inspired by loving the celery burrata dish you have on the menu at Mozzarella Bar. – [Nancy] Oh wow! – Yeah. ‘Cause like, I never thought celery could be cool until I saw you make it, honestly. All right, I’m gonna rinse these. Uh… Nancy, do you have a colander? – I do. – Oh. – Not a very big one. – It’s perfect. It’ll do the job. – So what is the seasoning that goes in there? – Some onion, which I’m gonna need to dice that. – Okay. – And then… – And I might have some extra onion here, you tell me how much to do. – It could just be like the rough stuff. Probably like a cup or so, maybe even more. The more, the better. Turmeric, salt, dried crushed Persian lime, and we use the nepitella in Italy. – Right. – But we’re gonna use mint today. – [Nancy] Fresh or dried? – Fresh. And parsley. That’s it. And a little water. – And I remember if, you know, that it was kind of fairly al dente. – Yes. – Was it? – Yes, yes. And it’s so good with the yogurt just on its own. – [Nancy] Did you make yogurt? – [Debbie] I did. – [Nancy] Oh, you brought it? – [Debbie] Yeah, I brought, I brought two delis. – [Nancy] Oh good, I’ve never had your yogurt. Oh, you’re gonna like it. So I’m peeling the celery because it’s fibrous and it just cooks more evenly and consistently. – Remember this summer, we had some trouble with the celery a little, but that’s, it’s really fibrous there. – [Debbie] Yeah. That was like white celery. – [Nancy] Yeah. – [Debbie] Right? – Oh, remember, I remember how this dinner that we had in Italy really came about. I was there for the summer and you were gonna be in Milan, visiting your family or for a few weeks, right? And before you left, you said, I wanna come to Umbria and I want to cook with you there. It’s like, great. – [Debbie] Let’s have a dinner party. – Let’s have a dinner party. – Oh my God, so fun. – [Nancy] But I don’t know if you know this, but when you came, it was kind of the tail end of my trip and this summer I had four really large dinner parties. Two of them that I had kind of on my own. And then two, I cooked for two different groups of people that had bought dinners at my house in Italy. – [Debbie] Right. – And so I had to make do on those dinners. And by the time you came, I was kind of so sick of making all the decisions myself. When you said yes, I don’t know if you remember, but I said to you, “Yeah, sure, we’ll cook together, but I’m gonna be your sous chef.” – Sous chef, right. – Remember that? – And I was like, – You make the menu, you tell me what we’re gonna cook and I’m just gonna listen to you ’cause I’m tired of being the chef. So, you came out and when we sat down and looked at the menu, I said, “Look at this, there’s a few things that I made this summer that I really loved.” I loved the potatoes I made. I loved my eggplant. – We gotta have bagna cauda. We gotta have some sort of beans. – And, but I’ll make those, and you make something that compliments and changes what I make already. And that’s how some of these dishes came about. – So I’m peeling the celery to get the outside string and the fibers out, so it’s not chewy when we cook it down. – [Nancy] You know, we always peel celery at the restaurant, you know, because a lot of the celery that we use at the restaurant is in a raw celery salad. And that’s when it’s even more noticeable when you don’t cook it. To peel it. – [Debbie] You don’t want this mouth full of fibers. – Yeah, by the time you get into that inside heart, those pale yellow stalks that are very small, we don’t peel those, but definitely the outside. Hey what, how fine do you want that? – [Debbie] That’s perfect. – [Nancy] Should I run a knife through it? – [Debbie] That’s perfect. – [Nancy] So this onion is for Deb. Deb, what am I doing? – This is for the celery. What are we gonna call this? ‘Cause– – No one can pronounce what you’re calling it. So you gotta change the name of it. – We’ve gotta make it like marinated herbed celery… – [Nancy] There you go. – [Debbie] Like… Hm, I don’t know, it’ll come. – [Nancy] But these onions are fine, just? – [Debbie] Yeah, they’re just perfect, just like that. – [Nancy] Just chop them up. I saved the cores for you because they’re sometimes a little bit more difficult to slice. – Would you say the cores are more intense or sweeter? – [Nancy] No, I don’t know if there’s a difference. I just know that when I’m slicing a lot of onions, my least favorite part to slice is when I get to the center, right? – It’s not consistent. – No. I gotta pull my knife a little bit through this one. You know, there’s a couple things that I think are very kind of underused and under appreciated. And one has always been celery for me and actually another one, but it has become very popular lately I think is cauliflower. – Oh yeah. – Right, cauliflower was just really underused, underappreciated. And same with cucumber. I love cucumber. – Oh yeah. Cucumber is good. How ’bout spices? Do you cook with a lot of spices? – I cook with spices, but I think that they seem to be a little bit limited, meaning that I love coriander. I love cumin. I love cardamom. So I see like every time I reach in my pantry for a spice or a dish that I’m thinking of, that’s where my mind always goes. – [Debbie] Mm. – So, you know, cutting celery, like on the bias like that is very similar to the green onions that we always cook on the bias. And I always feel like it’s a more elegant shape. And when I want something more rustic or ordinary, with both the onion or the celery, then I’ll just go straight across. – This recipe is a traditional Iranian recipe. But I grew up in a vegetarian home. So my mother would make the stew for Shabbat. – [Nancy] Wait, are they still vegetarian? – My mother is. – Wow, for how long? – When she got pregnant, so 29 years. – [Nancy] Oh, wow. – [Debbie] Yeah. Okay. I’m done here, chef. – What did you do with the hearts and the leaves? – Well, we’ll save the leaves to garnish. – [Nancy] Yes, that’s what I was gonna say. – That’s what you had suggested because in Umbria, we went to forage for garlic chives. Unless you have some in the neighborhood. – No, I don’t. Let’s use these. – [Debbie] Okay. – All right, so don’t throw it away. – Okay, I’ll keep these. So I have olive oil in this pan and then I added the onions that you chopped and heavily seasoned it with salt. I’m caramelizing the onions, basically getting them to a light caramel color. Caramelizing is basically allowing the water of whatever vegetable you have gets cooked out. – [Nancy] And the sugars, – [Debbie] And the sugars start to color. I need to slice the herbs for that. – [Nancy] Okay, what do you need? – Parsley and mint. So I’ll do one– – You got it? – Yep, I got ’em. I’m gonna finish picking the parsley for the celery stew. Thank you. – [Nancy] How’s your wine? You need more yet? – I am still working. I’m almost there. How ’bout you? – Ah, I could use a little refill. – Cute! – Ah, thank you! – You’re welcome. – Cheers! – Cheers to Umbria and… – Persia. – Great. ‘Kay, you know what? I clipped some fresh bay leaves from my tree. How ’bout a few bay leaves in there? – Oo, I like that idea. So I have the parsley and the mint. I’m gonna add the turmeric to the onions. Maybe a little bit more. Mix this guy up. And now I’m gonna add the celery. Would you like to taste it? A little more salt. – Did you just add it? – Mm hm. – Yeah. – More salt? – Yeah. It’s not too salty. – A little bit more? – Mm hm. – [Debbie] Next I’m gonna add some water. – Here let me get you some. Here you go. – Thank you, ma’am. – Welcome. Are you putting the herbs in whole? – No, I’m gonna finely, like kind of roughly, finely chop it. – [Nancy] Okay. You want me to start on that? – [Debbie] Yeah, please. – [Nancy] Okay, I’m gonna do the parsley. So chopped, not sliced, right? Just chopped. – Yeah. – Okay. – [Debbie] Just like that. – [Nancy] Oh, really roughly chopped! – [Debbie] Like that, yeah, it’s beautiful. – [Nancy] Okay, okay. – [Debbie] I’m gonna add the Persian line. – [Nancy] How much Persian lime are you adding? – [Debbie] Usually in the stew, my grandma and my mom put like six whole, so this would be equivalent of like– – [Nancy] You mean whole Persian lime that they ground up? – Right, so like I’m eyeballing it. – [Nancy] Right. – I would say maybe this is two right now. And then we’ll taste it as we go. That’s what we did in Umbria. – [Nancy] Yeah. So okay if I rough chop these herbs? – [Debbie] Yeah, and mix ’em together. – [Nancy] And you’re gonna add ’em later on? – Yep. – Okay. All right. So just a real rough chop. – [Debbie] Really rough. – All right, Deb, this is really rough. – I like it. Do you like it? – Well, I do for you, but it’s like, if anybody at my restaurant said, “how’s this chopped parsley?” I would definitely send it back. – I like it like that. – No, it’s good. I’m on mint. – [Debbie] Okay, I gonna add the herbs. I just put in the parsley and the mint. – [Nancy] Yum. – [Debbie] That my chef cut for me. – No, you’re the chef, ‘member? I’m the sous chef. Oh, yum! – Yeah, It’s good? – Oh, delicious. Right? – Mm. Mm hm. – You know,I wouldn’t call this a relish. – Not a relish! – I’d call it like – I was thinking of something! – Stewed celery. – Stewed celery with herbs. – Yeah, yeah, yeah. And Persian lime. – [Debbie] Would you send this back from your cooks? – [Nancy] No. – [Debbie] No, this works. – We’re gonna garnish the stewed celery with the tiny, innermost leaves of the celery and we’ll just like rip ’em. So pretty with these pale green leaves. – [Debbie] I know! – [Nancy] You know what? I think I know that when, this summer in Umbria? – [Debbie] Yeah. – We garnished ’em with those beautiful pink chive flowers, but I think I like the palette of the celery. – [Debbie] And the color’s so pretty too. – [Nancy] Yeah, perfect, great. – [Debbie] Voila! Voila.

About the Instructor

James Beard Award-winning chef, best-selling cookbook author, and the restaurateur behind Michelin-starred Mozza, Nancy Silverton takes viewers on a journey from her home in Panicale, Italy, to her home in Los Angeles. Viewers learn a range of Nancy’s renowned dishes, including her signature Caesar Salad, Chi Spacca Pepper Steak, 10+ vegetarian dishes, Mom’s Apple Pie, and more.

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