This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market you will find fresh eggs and pastured chicken, beef, pork, and lamb from Fair Valley Farm and Fog Hollow Farm, fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art Company, and plenty of fresh produce from Camas Swale Farm including sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, delicata squash, potatoes, leeks, and celery.
Celery is typically relegated to a supporting role in soups and stews, but apparently for Victorians it was a luxury ingredient displayed ostentatiously in special celery vases. For my beautiful Camas Swale celery bunch, I took inspiration from this tribute to long-cooked vegetables by Samit Nosrat in the New York Times, which reminded me of a Marcella Hazan recipe, deemed genius by food52. Hazan's recipe calls for pancetta to add some umami to the tomatoey braising liquid, but I opted for a few anchovy fillets because I love the flavors of celery and seafood.
If you, like me, happen to have momentarily succumb to the illusion that a kitchen appliance will solve all of your problems associated with anxieties about the impending school year, noxious smoke-filled air, and natural disasters related to climate change, and you recently invested in an Instant Pot, you could use it for this recipe. You could also cook this on the stove top. Either way, it is delicious and very soothing.
Tomato Braised Celery
adapted from Marcella Hazan1 bunch celery
2 large shallots, peeled and diced
1/4 cup olive oil
4 anchovy fillets in oil
15 ounce can of peeled and diced plum tomatoes, with their juice
red pepper flakes to taste
salt to tatse
1. Cut off the celery's leafy tops, saving the leaves for another use, and detach all the stalks from their base. Use a peeler to pare away most of the strings, and cut the stalks into pieces about 3 inches long (cutting on a diagonal looks nice). Alternately, if you plan on cooking long past tender (an hour or more), you can skip peeling the strings.
2. Heat a saute pan over medium heat. Put in the oil and the anchovies and cook, breaking up the anchovies, until they dissolve into the oil. Add the red pepper flakes and stir, and then add the diced shallots. Cook until the shallots are cooked through and golden.
3. Add the tomatoes with their juice, the celery, and salt, and toss thoroughly to coat well. Adjust heat to cook at a steady simmer, and put a cover on the pan. After 15 minutes check the celery, cooking it until it feels tender when prodded with a fork. The longer you cook them, the softer and sweeter they will become. If while the celery is cooking, the pan juices become insufficient, replenish with 2 to 3 tablespoons of water as needed. If on the contrary, when the celery is done, the pan juices are watery, uncover, raise the heat to high, and boil the juices away rapidly.
To make in an Instant Pot:
Perform step 2 using the Saute function. Press cancel, add the remaining ingredients for step 3, then cook with the pressure cooker function on low pressure for 15 minutes and allow the pressure to release naturally.