If ever there were a retro appetizer, stuffed celery is it. I have always loved celery, it’s crisp coolness is so refreshing. At one point, it was even thought of as a negative calorie food – like anything is. But it doesn’t have many and it is great for fiber.
So a very long time ago, stuffed celery was on every appetizer tray. You could hardly have a party without it! But alas, its day passed and now you can scarcely find it. One of the favorite stuffings was pimento cheese. Maybe that attributed to its demise – what do you think?
So, in my culinary wisdom I decided it was time to bring it back with updated fillings – no pimento cheese. This is an easy, quick appetizer that is perfect for waiting around while the grillin’ gets done. You can stuff it with any of your favorite spreads or dips if they aren’t too loose. The outer stalks of celery are actually the best as they have a wider channel to fill. The inner stalks are too tight and won’t hold much filling
Just wash the celery, dry it and fill it. There you go – instant appetizer! I have given you two really easy fillings to get started. While you might assume the Greek filling is the mildest, you are in for a surprise. It is zingy and hot! If you don’t want it so hot, cut back on the hot banana peppers. The Southwestern filling is embarrassingly easy and you can make it hotter if desired by adding cayenne, chipotle or jalapeno. A word of caution, don’t make both of the really hot. Have one milder.
Either of these can be used for a dip. Use pita chips with the Greek filling and tortilla chips for the Southwestern. Now you don’t even have to fill the celery! You want this easier? The fillings should be made the day before to mellow.
12 calamata olives
3 tablespoons finely diced green pepper
2 tablespoons hot banana peppers (less if you don’t want it hot)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 ounces feta cheese
2 ounces cream cheese (1/3 less fat is fine)
I do not rinse the olives because I like the taste of the brine they are in. Rinse or don’t.
Place the olives, green pepper, hot banana peppers and oregano in a processor bowl. Process to mince finely. Add the cheeses and process to mix. Chill to firm.
Makes about 11/4 cup
3 ounces hot pepperjack cheese
2/3 cup bottled salsa of your choice
6 ounces cream cheese (can be 1/3 less fat)
1 teaspoon cumin
Cut the cheese in chunks and add to the processor. Process to grate. Leave in the processor bowl.
Drain the salsa really well. You want the solids mostly. You should have 1/2 cup.
Place all the ingredients in the processor and process to smooth. Chill.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
Large bunch of celery with outer stalks free of blemishes
Cut the stalks off the bunch and wash very well. Dry. If the filling is a bit chunky as is the Greek, I pipe with a plain tip. If the filling is smoother, I use an open star tip. If you don’t have piping tips, just cut the tip off a heavy freezer bag and use that.
Fill the bag and pipe the filling side to side to fill the cavities. Cut them into pieces about 3” pieces. Fill the second bag with the Southwestern Dip and repeat filling. Arrange on a platter and enjoy.
These can be filled and chilled hours and hours before serving.
©Copyright Helen S. Fletcher 2013. All rights Reserved.