The black celery: The excellent vegetable of Trevi

close-up photo of many celery bunches lying next to each other.

In the charming village of Trevi, in Umbria, a particular type of celery is produced: black celery. If left to grow unprocessed, celery tends to have a dark colour that earns the product the title “black”. Since 2008, black celery has been on the list of products by the Slow Food Presidium, where agri-food producers work constantly to safeguard and promote the local area and its products while respecting the environment.

The production of black celery in Trevi

This vegetable has limited production because it is only grown in the canapine lands, an area between Borgo (a hamlet of Trevi) and the Clitunno River. The close presence of the water makes the soil clayey, more fertile, where hemp was produced in the past. The sowing and harvesting procedures are strict and have remained unchanged for years. Tradition has it that the celery seed is planted on Good Friday because, according to producers, vegetables planted in this period grow faster and flowering delays. On the contrary, according to other producers, seeding should be done during the waning moon phase. A few weeks before the harvesting, which takes place in October, the celery is wrapped or buried. In this way, the vegetable tends to grow taller, and the stems take on a lighter colour. During the harvesting, producers select seeds from the best plants and save them for planting the following year.

The typical dish of Trevi: black celery parmigiana

October in Trevi is the month dedicated to black celery. It is possible to buy it during the Celery Festival that takes place this month in the village. In addition, it is possible to taste it in local restaurants cooked in different ways. The external stalk is used for preparing vegetable soups; the inner part, softer, is eaten in pinzimonio (row celery with a seasoning of oil, salt and pepper). Instead, the leaves are dried, turned into powder and used to flavour cakes and bread.

However, the typical dish of Trevi is the black celery parmigiana. To prepare it, the celery stalks must be cleaned without breaking them and boiled in salted water. After letting them cool and drain, fill the stalks with a mixture of minced meat, sausage, egg, grated Parmesan cheese and season with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil (another excellent product of the Umbria region), and spices to taste. Next, dip the stalks in egg, then in flour and fry them. After frying, place them in a baking dish and season with meat sauce and Parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes at 180 degrees and enjoy this delicious dish together with a glass of Montefalco red wine.

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