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Persian Beef Stew with Celery Leaves

I’m bundled in wool as a faint snow falls outside. Long gone are the farmers markets that wowed me this summer and fall in Missoula. But the taste lingers.

A few weeks back, during one of the last Saturday markets, I picked up a bunch of celery from a local Hmong vendor. That celery was so deliciously green—with far more leaves than stalk. I couldn’t resist. I bought. And then I wondered what in the world I would do with all those celery leaves.

A little Googling, and I came across this recipe for a Persian beef celery stew, which calls for leaves, stalks and all. Perfect!

I followed the recipe, tweaking things just a little bit:
* I used grape-seed oil rather than canola.
* I sautéed the celery with a bit of minced garlic.
* I didn’t have (gasp!) saffron on hand. OK, maybe that was a major tweak. But the stew still worked.
* I couldn’t resist adding a little heat with a pinch each of smoked paprika and hot chile powder.
* I didn’t have preserved lemons so I used a drizzle of lemon juice at the end.

This was a beautiful, earthy stew that warmed us through and through. The celery took on a tang that paired perfectly with the beef (use good beef; you want to savor that flavor).

Are you feeling a little chilly tonight? Make this stew. If you can’t find such a bundle of celery leaves, use the stalks instead. They’ll work. And a pot of this will keep you warm.

6 replies on “Persian Beef Stew with Celery Leaves”

I’m always buying too much of the greens, they’re so beautiful. I make gourmet sabzi sometimes and when I had nothing by celery made this. You certainly did buy a gigantic bunch of celery leaves.

Hi Karen:

This seems like a delicious variation of the greenest beef stew I’ve ever cooked. Usually, the Persians use a combo of dill, cilantro, mint and other greens (including celery) for Gormeh Sabzi.

But as variation is key in most Asian cuisines – this version made with only celery is a great dish to make when all the ingredients aren’t on hand. Also, its usually it is quite citrusy with a dried lemon or lime or two thrown into the pot after a holes are poked in them.

The traditional recipe that this one is based on is in Silk Road Gourmet: Volume One.

I love the bright green that the celery leaves offered – its so springy – great for a fall meal! Makes you think of the good things to come. . .


This is just so funny. I come from Italy, where celery is usually sensible: some leaves and some stalks. When I moved to the UK I found out there was no way to get celery leaves at all, and I like using them as a garnish (also in form of pesto) now and again. I did eventually find a version at the farmer’s market that had tons of leaves (and almost no stems).

A great Italian dish with beef and celery is coda alla vaccinara. It is a beef (ox? cow?) tail stew, and the secret to overcome the much fat of this meat cut is to add a considerable amount of celery alongside the usual suspects of onion, carrot and tomato.

Sarah, you are right – they are incredibly beautiful, especially this time of year when most everything outside is brown or covered in white.

Laura, I did use a bit of mint in this dish as well. When I get home, I will certainly look up that recipe. Most of my cookbooks are on the shelf in New Mexico – I’m looking forward to reuniting with them!

Food Dude, thanks. It is a comforting dish.

Caffettiera, I love the notion of “sensible celery.” Hmmm. That might be worth a blog post someday….

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