These lovely open-faced sandwiches take celery from bit player to main stage. We boil it briefly to make it crisp-tender and bright green before piling it on toast and broiling it under a creamy topping of ham and cheese. The toasts make a lovely brunch dish (with Bloody Marys all around), or a light lunch served with a vinegary green salad.
Position a rack 6 inches from the broiler and preheat to high. Toast the bread to a light golden-brown. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil.
In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, cheese and ham; season with pepper.
Trim off the tops and bottoms of 8 outer stalks of celery. Peel the stalks. Cut the stalks crosswise into 3 equal pieces (just about the length of the bread). Halve each piece lengthwise, if necessary, so each celery piece is about 1/2-inch wide. Tear a few of the light green leaves from the heart and reserve. Add the celery pieces to the boiling water and cook until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
Put the toasts on a baking sheet. Divide the celery among the toasts. Dollop the mayonnaise mixture on top and spread gently to cover most of the celery (the sandwiches look pretty with a bit of green showing at the edges). Broil until the cheese is brown and bubbly, about 2 minutes. Transfer the toasts to plates, garnish with the reserved celery leaves and serve.
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