Celery is not usually thought of as a main ingredient, but this recipe is a surprisingly delicious exception. The casserole is an excellent way to use an abundance of celery, and it's a dish you'll make again and again.
And did you know you could freeze celery? Granted, it will lose its crunch, but it will still be fine for soups, casseroles, and other cooked dishes. Freeze raw, blanched, or stir-fried celery in airtight containers.
If you prefer to use a seasoned homemade sauce instead of soup, I've included a brief recipe in the tips and variations section. Or use a basic bechamel or variation. A little cheese in the sauce would be good as well.
- 4 cups sliced celery, (sliced 1-inch)
- Salt for the cooking water and to taste
- 1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained (5 oz)
- 1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup (do not add water)
- 1/4 cup diced pimiento, drained
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup soft bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted*
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- Heat the oven to 350° F (180° C/Gas 4). Butter a 1- to 1 1/2-quart baking dish.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil, add about 1 teaspoon of salt per quart of water and the sliced celery. Boil the celery for about 8 minutes. Drain in a colander and then combine it in the empty saucepan or a bowl with the sliced water chestnuts, cream of chicken soup, and diced pimiento. Add the pepper and then taste and add salt, as needed.
- Spoon the celery mixture into the prepared baking dish.
- Combine the bread crumbs, almonds, and melted butter in another bowl; sprinkle over the casserole.
- Bake the casserole for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
Tips and Variations
Cream of Chicken Soup Substitute - In a saucepan melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Add 4 tablespoons of flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Gradually add 3/4 cup of chicken broth and 1/2 cup of milk. Cook, stirring until thickened. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Add some sauteed onion or mushrooms to the celery mixture for some extra flavors and texture.
The water chestnuts add extra crunch, but they can be omitted. Add some extra toasted slivered almonds to the casserole mixture, if desired.