Alison's Lunch

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braised celery with tomatoes, capers, and olives

braised celery with tomatoes, capers, and olives

This recipe is based on one in Jack Bishop’s Vegetables Every Day. The salty capers and briny olives are great with the naturally salty celery—and I’m betting you might just have all of these ingredients in your pantry, ready to whip up into a very easy side dish.

1 large bunch celery, with leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, minced
1 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes (I prefer Muir Glen—they are really sweet!)
1 to 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
10 to 15 large Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
sea salt or kosher salt (maybe)
freshly ground pepper

1. Tear the celery leaves away from the stalks and set them aside. and cut off the small branchy stems on top of the main celery stalks. Trim and discard any tough portions from the bottom and top of each celery stalk. Peel the outside of the stalks to remove the stringy fibers, using a paring knife to grab the top outer edge of the stalk, and then peeling it down the outside of the stem to get the strings. Cut the stalks into 2-inch lengths. (You’ll have about 6 cups.)
2. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until softened and golden, about 4 minutes. Add the celery, turn down the heat and cover the pan. Cook for another 5 minutes or so, turning the celery occasionally.
3. Add the tomatoes, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cover the pan again. Simmer the mixture until the celery is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. You may need to add a bit more water if the pan goes dry before the celery is tender (I did). My celery never got completely soft—there was a little resistance to it even after 25 minutes of cooking, but I liked it that way.
4. Meanwhile, chop up the celery leaves. When the celery is tender, stir in the capers, olives and celery leaves. Taste for salt (I didn’t use any salt because capers, olives, and tomatoes were already salty enough), and add freshly-ground pepper. Serve right away.