Slow-Roasted Celery

This unexpected side dish is sure to be a new favorite!

Ingredients:
2 bunches celery, halved lengthwise, leaves removed and coarsely chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, pressed
3 tablespoons apple cider
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
3⁄4 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
2⁄3 cup coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 400°.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the celery for 3 minutes, scoop them out with a slotted spoon, and let drain. Place the celery on a baking sheet, cut sides down.

3. Whisk the garlic, apple cider and olive oil together, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the celery with half of the dressing and half of the parsley and slide the baking sheet into the oven. Pour the stock over them and cook for 45 to 60 minutes (depending on the thickness of the celery), until the celery al dente and the tips are coloring.

4. Transfer to a serving platter if desired. Drizzle with the rest of the dressing; sprinkle with the rest of the parsley, celery leaves, cheese, and hazelnuts; and serve.

Meyer Lemon Relish

This fresh-and-tart spread from Food & Wine is wonderful served alongside chicken, halibut or a freshly-toasted baguette.

Ingredients:
1 large Meyer lemon, peeled and peel very thinly-sliced
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons chives, minced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
½ cup olive oil
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Method:
1. Finely chop the lemon pulp, discarding any seeds, and transfer to a bowl.

2. Add the lemon peel, minced shallots, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, chives, parsley, olive oil and crushed red pepper to the bowl. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper and serve. (Can be made ahead and refrigerated up to 3 days.)

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Rustic Garlic Croutons

These garlicky nibbles are fantastic served with this week’s cioppino!

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 large minced garlic clove
3 cups torn Pain au Levain bread
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 400°. Microwave the butter and minced garlic clove in a microwave-safe bowl on high until butter is melted, about 30 seconds.

2. Spread the torn bread on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the butter mixture; toss to coat. Bake in preheated oven 8 to 10 minutes, until crisp. Season with salt and pepper; store in an airtight container until ready to use.

Braised Fennel & Carrots

Kissed with honey and orange zest, this beautiful side sings with bright flavor.

Ingredients:
1½ pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch-long sticks
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed, cored and cut into ⅛-inch thick slices
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
Zest of 1 orange
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
¼ cup water
¼ cup orange juice
2 tablespoons fennel fronds, chopped
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Method:
1. Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Add the butter, olive oil and honey. Stir well and add the carrots, fennel, orange zest and fennel seeds. Toss until the slices are well coated with the oil. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the fennel starts to soften.

2. Add the water, orange juice, salt, and pepper. Toss quickly and reduce heat to between medium and medium-low. Cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

3. Uncover the pan. Raise heat to high and fast-simmer until the juices have all evaporated and some of the vegetables are golden-brown, about 6 to 7 minutes, tossing occasionally. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with the fennel fronds, and serve immediately.

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