One day recently at my farmers’ market, an Asian vendor, a German woman, and I found ourselves together in a three-way conversation about celery tops. The German woman had previously asked the vendor to please don’t cut off the tops of your celery; “they’re good for soups and seasoning,” she said. The vendor had accommodated and her celery stalks sported beautiful leaves at the top of each rib. I bought a stalk, cut the tops off, and displayed them in a glass vase with a little water in the bottom. It was October, and the Fuji apple tree in the backyard was heavy laden. When the celery tops were beginning to droop, I brought them to the kitchen and put them together with the Fujis and some cabbage in a variation on the theme of cabbage slaw, here with the celery and apple playing prominent roles. Simply dressed with just lemon and white balsamic vinegar, no oil or mayo, it’s a refreshing side/condiment for pork, chicken, and fish dishes. It also works well to accompany sausages, or a warm bowl of steamed rice, or to set in the center of a late harvest picnic table.
Makes 6 to 7 cups slaw
1 cup thinly sliced celery leaves and rib tops
1 1/2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/ 2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, toss to mix, and set aside at room temperature to wilt a bit, an hour or so. Or, refrigerate up to overnight and serve chilled.