When I see something pink, I am immediately drawn to it. Lush velvet couches, status water bottles, headbands, tie-dyed sets, and…celery? Yeah, pink celery, or rose celery as Girl & Dug Farm, a specialty produce farm that works with a lot of top chefs in San Marcos, California, calls it.
Before I get into the ins and outs of this pink vegetable, I’ll preface by saying that I have always despised celery. The stringy texture and watery flavor was off-putting to me, and the only way I could enjoy it was buried inside a soup. So when I saw rose celery on Girl & Dug’s website (FYI: G&D’s Signature Box is $95, ships nationwide, and can include the rose celery when it is available), I was as torn as Natalie Imbruglia. Could my love for all things pink negate my distaste for celery?
Girl & Dug owner Aaron Choi sent me a sample before its latest harvest so I could try it. It turns out that rose celery is just the farm’s cute, well-fitting name for Chinese pink celery, which is popular in Beijing. It’s recently popped up at a few farms in California, but anyone can purchase the seeds and attempt to grow it in a home garden. You may stumble upon it randomly at your local farmers’ market, no matter where in the world you are, as it can be grown year-round.
The sample of rose celery that I tried was not fully grown, so the stalks were thin and lighter pink. As they grow, the color becomes a more dynamic fuchsia—almost neon—and stays that way even when cooked. When eaten raw, rose celery is aromatic with a robust and concentrated vegetal flavor that runs circles around what you’re used to eating. It’s crisp and herbaceous with a sharp pungency that makes it less of a snacking celery and more of an ingredient for salads and delicious grain bowls. When cooked, it turns sweet and tender but still adds some texture and beautiful color to stir-frys, soups, and sauces.
After using some minced rose celery in chicken salad, I was impressed by the color, subtle flavor, and satisfying crunch. But cooked is when I fell in love with it, mixed with mushrooms, chicken, and shallots with just a hint of soy and oyster sauces. If you’d like to try it for yourself, check out Girl & Dug, or if you have a quarantine garden going, order some seeds.
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