Saturday, November 10, 2012

Creamy Three-Cheese Celery Bake with Oven-Fried Crispy Onions

For a copy of the recipe for Creamy Three-Cheese Celery Bake with Oven-Fried Crispy Onions, click HERE. 

Although we were quite fortunate and had no significant damage in my area from Hurricane Sandy, having no power for a few days did keep me from posting – the first week I’ve missed since starting this site over two years ago!- and limited the ingredients I had available. It’s a great pleasure to be back.

This week’s recipe for Creamy Three-Cheese Celery Bake with Oven-Fried Crispy Onions is not only a great side dish for your Thanksgiving holiday dinner, but for year-round dinner use as well. It’s my version of a tasty celery bake dish my mother-in-law used to make.

Some readers may remember that there was a celery-based soup posted here two weeks ago, and could be wondering the reason for what must seem to be my recent obsession with cooking celery dishes. Celery is a great, versatile ingredient, of course, and I like it very much for that reason alone. In the interest of full disclosure, however, I must also confess to another reason. Back in the spring, I planted celery in my garden for the first time. Not knowing any better, I thought that one celery seedling would grow one head of celery such as we buy at the supermarket. I planted three, unaware that each seedling would grow not one, but three or four celery heads. At harvesting time that’s a lot of celery, folks, and leads naturally to a desire to cook dishes that use it in significant quantities.

One more note regarding this recipe. For the mushrooms I would, of course, normally use fresh. Similarly, for the roasted red pepper I’d normally start with a fresh red bell pepper and roast it myself. This recipe having been cooked during the power-outage of Hurricane Sandy, the ingredients available to me were somewhat limited, and I had to use canned mushrooms and jarred roasted red pepper instead. The recipe below describes the use of both fresh and canned mushrooms. Making a roasted red pepper using the stove-top or oven is described in several recipes previously posted here, including one of my favorites, “Mini-Taco Hors D’oeuvres with Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Salsa.”
This recipe makes an 11” x 7” x 1-1/2” baking dish of celery bake, enough for 6 – 8 side dish size servings, or 3 – 4 servings of the celery bake plated by itself as a light lunch or dinner.

To start, let’s make the crispy onions:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Julienne 1 medium onion.

In a plastic bag, combine 1 egg substitute and 1 Tbsp skim milk. Place the onion slices in the bag and shake to coat.

In another plastic bag, combine the 1-1/2 cups plain bread crumbs, 1 tsp dried oregano, and 1 tsp salt. Transfer the coated onion slices to the bag of seasoned bread crumbs and toss to lightly coat.

Spread the onion pieces out evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicon sheet, and spray lightly with cooking spray.

Bake for 15 minutes. Toss the onions, lightly spray with cooking spray again, and bake for about another 15 minutes until golden. (Watch the onions near the end to make sure they don’t burn!)

When done, set the onions aside to cool. They'll get crispier as they cool.

Now let’s do the celery bake.

Begin lowering the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Prepare 1/2 cup of chopped green pepper, 1/2 chopped roasted red pepper, and 2 to 2-1/2 cups of mixed grated cheese consisting of equal parts cheddar, parmesan, and asiago.

In a skillet, melt ¼ cup of butter substitute over medium heat, add 4 cups of thin-sliced celery (and 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms if fresh are being used), cover and cook until tender, about five minutes.

Uncover the skillet, move the celery to one side, and put 3 Tbsp flour and 1 tsp of salt in. Add 1-1/2 cups skim milk to the flour mixture. Cook until the mixture is thickened and bubbling, stirring constantly.

Stir in celery into the milk mixture, and add the green pepper and roasted red pepper. (If using canned mushrooms instead of canned, add 4 ounces of them here.)

When the ingredients in the skillet have combined, turn off the heat and add 2 to 2-1/2 cups of mixed grated cheddar, parmesan, and asiago cheeses (equal parts of each), stirring until melted.

Transfer the mixture to an 11” x 7” x 1.5” baking dish.

Bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes.

When the celery mixture has finished baking, top with the crispy onions. Serve warm.

For a copy of the recipe for Creamy Three-Cheese Celery Bake with Oven-Fried Crispy Onions, click HERE.

Hope you enjoy making this side dish even if you don’t ever find yourself dealing with more celery than any reasonable person should ever have to. And please come by again next week for another kitchen-tested, home-cook friendly recipe. Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)


  1. Okay you.. I have a pile of celery. This looks great! My daughter wouldn't touch it but we would! I would use real egg, no substitute here :)
    Adore the onions!

  2. Thank you, Kim. :-) One of my sons will not go near celery either - or potatoes, lemon, fresh mushrooms, and a lot of other things it is hard to cook without - so I feel your pain. Glad you like the onions!