January is a month of cutting back and reigning ourselves in after the excesses of the holidays. Meatless Monday is a good ethos any time, but this time of year especially. Taking a bit more care about what we’re putting in our bodies is an important part of modern life, what with all the incredibly unhealthy and damaging food offered up to us every day. In addition to cutting back on what we’re eating, January usually also means cutting back financially and this recipe in particular is a great January jewel for being healthy, satisfying and economical.
Celery, tomatoes and beans: such simple ingredients, but in this combination lies a hearty and completely delicious dinner. My aunt sent me this recipe, printed from mariquita.com − where you can find tons of vegetable recipes to inspire and amaze − and originally from Marian Morash’s Victory Garden Cookbook, but she sent it with a disclaimer: “It’s not as bland as it sounds!” Even reading the list of ingredients, I have to admit that I was wondering how this was going to work. Could it be as satisfying as she claimed? Or would it end up being more reminiscent of celery water?
The first time we had it, I served it on its own which was delicious. The second time I served it with pan fried polenta rounds which, in my mind, made it good enough for company. The polenta helped make it into a more complete meal, but it is definitely hearty enough to stand alone you may just need a bit more of it. The herbs seem to be a bit mix and match with the original recipe calling for chervil and my aunt using a mixture of parsley and marjoram, but I think tarragon works especially well with celery and it adds a certain freshness to this wintery stew.
So next time you’ve only got a few squishy tomatoes and a sad stick of celery, whip this up and let the goodness soak in.
Recipe adapted from Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash
1/2 head Celery, cut into 1/2″ chunks and leaves chopped and reserved
1 Bell Pepper, red, yellow or orange, cut into 1/2″ chunks
1 large Onion, sliced
3 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Oil
2 cloves Garlic, minced
4 Tomatoes, chopped or 1 can chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp Celery Salt
1 tsp dried Tarragon
1/2 cup Stock, chicken or vegetable, or Water
2 cans white beans (Cannelini, Butter, Flageolet or Haricot)
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch the celery for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. (This step is super important, don’t skip it or the celery will never get tender!)
2. In the same pan heat the butter and oil together. Add the onions and pepper and sauté until soft, about 5-7 minutes.
3. Add garlic and cook for a further minute, then add blanched celery and celery salt and cook covered over medium-low heat stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes.
4. Add tomatoes, tarragon and stock or water. Cook covered for a further 10 minutes or until celery is tender.
5. Add beans and celery leaves and cook for 5 minutes until heated through. Season and serve.