Celery is a vegetable in the same family as celeriac and fennel, and has a very long history of cultivation and consumption. It is used as a flavouring base for soups and stews combined with onion and carrot, but can also be added to salads and stir-fries.
Celery is grown from seeds or seedlings, with both the stems and leaves of the plant being edible. Different cultivars allow celery to be grown all year round, but it is best grown in spring and autumn to avoid the very hot summer or very cold winter temperatures.
One of the popular celery growers at the farmers’ markets is Virgara’s Garden. Sarina and Francesco Virgara grow more than 20 different vegetable varieties in any given season on their 50ha of market gardens at Willunga and Myponga. Other vegetables available on their stall during the spring season include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, parsnips, swedes, turnips, artichokes and garlic. Sarina and Francesco also produce carrots, potatoes, onions, beetroot and lettuce throughout the year.
You can find celery at Adelaide Showground Farmers’ Market at the Virgara’s Garden, W&B Hart and Patlin Gardens stalls. Adelaide Showground Farmers’ Market re-opens this Sunday, September 18, after being closed for two weeks for the Royal Adelaide Show. The market is open from 9am to 1pm at the Adelaide Showground, Leader Street, Wayville.
W&B Hart and Virgara’s Garden stalls are also at Willunga Farmers’ Market on Saturdays from 8am to 12.30pm. Also open on Saturdays is the Gawler Farmers’ Market from 8am to noon at the Gawler Visitor Information Centre, 2 Lyndoch Road, Gawler.
Lyndall Vandenberg, marketing and communications coordinator for the Willunga Farmers’ Market, says celery is the perfect vegetable for making a risotto.
“Celery has got loads of flavour and when you cook with celery it smells aromatically beautiful.”
Here she shares a recipe for Risotto with Celery and Mushrooms.
“You can add the celery to the pan from the beginning and it will be cooked perfectly by the time the rice is ready.”
Risotto with celery and mushrooms
4 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, finely sliced
4 cups mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4-6 stalks lemon thyme
3 cups Arborio rice
¾ cup dry white wine
3-4 litres hot chicken or vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese, grated
½ cup parsley, chopped
½ tsp lemon zest
juice of ¼ lemon
Prepare all ingredients and have them ready to go. Heat a medium-size cast-iron pan. Add the oil, then the onion, and fry until golden. Add the celery and cook for a few minutes, then turn the heat to medium-high, add the mushrooms, garlic and thyme, and cook gently for about 15 minutes.
Add the rice, stir and toast a bit. Deglaze with the wine and cook until it is absorbed. Start adding the stock, ladle by ladle, stirring gently each time you add the next ladle of stock. Too much stirring will cause the rice to become overly starchy.
As you go, add a little salt and a handful of parmesan.
When the rice is soft, but still a little firm, it is ready. Turn off the heat and add the parsley, more cheese, pepper, lemon zest and juice and stir gently. Let the rice stand for a few minutes before serving.
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