It was all I could do not to reference The Celery Stalks At Midnight in the title of this post - I loved Bunnicula when I was a kid. Naturally white vegetables like turnips, daikon, and eggplants always remind me of those books, and I half-expect to turn them over and glimpse the pierce-marks of two little fangs, where the bunny-vampire sucked out all the veggie goodness and color...
But that's neither here nor there. This braised celery recipe, on the other hand, is both. I was inspired to braise celery by a Recipezaar search, but none of the recipes there or on Epicurious were satisfactory, so I improvised...and it turned out great! I love cream of celery soup, and this has that delicate cooked-celery flavor without being made of, y'know, cream. Note that the celery quantity was difficult for me to judge, because the stalk I used was very small and tender.
1/3-1/2 stalk celery, trimmed of leaves and tough outer ribs, and cut into about 2" long pieces (you'll end up with about 2 cups of celery pieces)
2 small shallots, diced finely
1/2 cup vegetable stock (Trader Joe's is by far my favorite)
1/2 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan (or a skillet that has a lid). Add shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until shallots are translucent but not brown, 4-6 minutes. Add celery pieces, and continute cooking until celery begins to get tender, 3-5 minutes. If shallots or celery begin to brown, turn down heat. Add stock and seasoning, bring to a boil, then turn down heat, cover, and simmer until celery is tender and liquid is almost totally absorbed, about 20-25 minutes. Serve immediately.
The good thing about selections being limited at the greenmarket, is that I'm being forced to come up with creative ways to use things like celery and carrots, which seem always to be available. Last night's dinner was grain sausage, braised celery, and some of the fingerling potatoes, roasted with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary. They were good, but I think I'll slice them thinly and roast briefly next time, because the flavorful "crust" each piece developed in the oven was the best part - their flesh wasn't especially tasty.