Cheesy Celery Mousse with Shitake Musrooms on Spätzle (vegetarian, but vegan options)

Well in between travel memories, work and the usual Christmas madness, I love to take a little break with walking on the farmer’s market and cook nice dishes on the weekend. During the week, I usually eat quickly made dishes, but on the days off, I often indulge in all the food inspirations from the market and try to experiment a little.

Celery is a tricky vegetable. Mostly used for cooking soups or only in small amounts, I wanted it to play the big role in my saturday dinner. I also found nice mushrooms and an incredible mountain cheese (rich in taste), and since these to are strong enough to deal with the dominant celery, I gave it a try – with an amazing result!

First of all, I have to admit that I bought ready made Spätzle. I know, these are not difficult to make, but it makes a little mess and for only one person I didn’t want to have all this hassle. The rest ist super easy. I took for one person:

– 1/2 celery in bigger cubes (cut away the outer skin)
– 1 small white onion in cubes
– 1 hand full of organic Shitake mushrooms (cut the big ones in halves)
– 3 table spoons of grated cheese with strong taste (Berkäse, cheddar, Tilsiter…)
– 80 gr of ready made Spätzle
– 1 tea spoon of vegetable oil
– 1 table spoon of low fat cream cheese
– spices as you wish

Steam or boil the cheddar together with the onion until it is really soft. I prefer steaming, since it is faster and the veggies won’t use so much taste. Still, the celery will loose a bit of his spicyness, it’s getting really mild and sweet in taste.

While this is happening (takes about 10-15 mins., depending on the size of the cubes), heat up the oil in a pan and let the shitake mushrooms roast a little. Don’t salt them, they only would get like rubber. When you have the feeling that they are soft (maybe add a little water), reduce the heat and sprinkle some salt on them.

Take the steamed celery and put it into a little pot, which you place on small heat. Use a blender stick to make a soft puree. Add the cream cheese and stir. Add spices – I chose a slightly spicy mix from Just Spices – but in general, some garlic, salt, pepper, nutmeg, chili and maybe a bit of coriander tastes good. Add the cheese, stir well and let it rest on the heat. If it gets too sticky, you can add a bit of water, veggie soup or white wine.

Then just roast the spätze quickly with the mushrooms. You can also use a separate pan, but to be honest,  I was lazy and seperated them during placing them into the bowl ;-)

Which is the last step. Spätzle first, then the mousse and top it with the mushrooms. If you want you can add some sprouts or freshly grated pepper. It is a wonderful hearty, but still not fat or greasy and heavy soulfood dish. Perfect for these days!

Of course you can add some meat like chicken. I had too much meat in the last days, so I longed for a vegetarian dish. Due to the mild celery taste, also white fish is nice. If you have some carrots, these fit perfectly into the mousse (and it will get a light soft pink colour ;-)).

For a vegan option, use egg-free Spätzle and exchange normal cheese for vegan cheese. You can also skip it completely, but then it won’t get that fluffy, creamy structure.

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