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
- Sautee onion and garlic in about 1/4 cup olive oil until they begin to soften
- Add celery (and anchovy if using) and sautee until it begins to soften and turn golden brown.
- Dissolve tomato paste in hot water, and add to the pan along with the olives.
- Simmer over low heat until celery is tender but not too soft–about 30 minutes.
- Serve warm, as a side, or over pasta with cheese.