Celery. How I loathe thee. There’s just so damn much of you! I know you have your place. You’re indispensable in mirepoix, sofrito, and soups. And so when a recipe calls for celery, I dutifully buy a bunch, chop up a stalk or two, and the rest rots in the produce drawer. I wish I was a raw celery eater. I do. But, blech! It’s the fibery strings and the sharp flavor.
Wouldn’t it be brilliant if some grocer out there decided to sell celery by the stalk? I would so be there. But until then if there’s a recipe that helps me use up all that leftover celery, please bring it on.
So when I stumbled upon Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for egg salad and pickled celery, I was over the moon! Pickled celery? That’s brilliant! Do you ever read a recipe and go, “duh! How did I never thinking of that?” Genius.
Along with my half bunch of celery stalks, I also happen to have some fennel stalks leftover from the top of a fennel bulb. I just hated to waste the stalks since they still have that bright, fresh anise flavor. So into the crisper drawer it went until I could decide what to do with it…or until it ripened beyond recognition.
Fennel stalks always remind me a little of celery anyway, so I thought pickling would be a great method to use up all those orphan stalks lolling about in my crisper drawer.
This recipe for egg salad is so, so tasty. I make used to make my egg salad with a dollop of pickle relish to give it that puckery pickle flavor and crunch. The pickled celery and fennel does exactly the same thing except with a cleaner flavor and a much more noticeable crunch. And without all that high fructose corn syrup, dyes, and preservatives. All this from ingredients that would otherwise have gone to waste! It’s the little things that make me so happy!
Egg Salad with Pickled Celery and Fennel
(adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen)
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup water
a healthy pinch of Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
3 stalks celery, trimmed, diced tiny
Fennel stalks from a bulb of fennel, trimmed, diced tiny (about the volume of 1 large celery stalk)
4 large eggs, hard-boiled
1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard
2 teaspoons minced shallot or red onion (or more to taste) [I omitted this because I didn’t have any]
2 tablespoons mayonnaise or full-fat plain yogurt [I used 1 Tbsp mayonnaise + 1 Tbsp 0% Greek yogurt]
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Tbsp finely chopped chives
For the pickled celery and fennel, combine vinegar, water, Kosher salt, and sugar in a jar and shake it until the salt and sugar dissolve. Add diced celery and fennel to jar. Cover it and allow the celery and fennel to marinate for at least 1 hour. Leftover pickled celery/fennel keeps in the refrigerator and is a great addition to tuna salad, potato salad, pasta salad, you name it!
Peel the boiled eggs and chop them to your preference. I like a medium chop. Add 1 heaped tablespoon of drained pickled celery/fennel (add more, to taste), mustard, mayo/yogurt, and chives. Mix well to break up the yolks. Season to taste with salt and pepper.