By Lisa

This is one of those things that I never thought I would make–how many of you cook celery regularly (as a base of soups or sauces doesn’ t count)? I don’t. Or didn’t.   But then I saw this on tv at just the right moment, and I’ve made it twice in 2 weeks. A more simple, economical, versatile dish is hard to find. A more comforting cold weather dish is hard to find. It pairs beautifully with braised meat; it’s delicious over penne.  My eight year old loved it. My six year old was luke warm, but not totally opposed. I told him he had to learn to like it. We’ll see how that goes.

The dish basically involves slow cooking celery with a lot of onions, garlic, and olives in a very simple tomato paste sauce. The celery, as my daughter remarks, transforms into something tender-crisp, and golden.  If you don’t have olives–as I didn’t the last time–leave them out. If you like anchovies (we do) toss a few in with the onions. You can’t really mess this up.

Braised Celery with (or without Olives)

(very slightly adapted from Lidia Bastianich)

  • olive oil
  • 1-2 onions (more is better), halved, then sliced (not too thin)
  • 1 bunch celery, chopped into 1-2 inch slices, including leaves
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1-2 anchovies (optional)
  • cured black olives (you can get away w/o these, but it’s better with them)
  • 1/2 can tomato paste
  • 2 cups hot water
  1. Sautee onion and garlic in about 1/4 cup olive oil until they begin to soften
  2. Add celery (and anchovy if using) and sautee until it begins to soften and turn golden brown.
  3. Dissolve tomato paste in hot water, and add to the pan along with the olives.
  4. Simmer over low heat until celery is tender but not too soft–about 30 minutes.
  5. Serve warm, as a side, or over pasta with cheese.