Braised Celery with Pantellerian Flavors

Sedano Brasato Pantesco in Italian (Pantesco means “of Pantelleria), this simple dish uses the distinct flavors of Pantellerian capers and oregano. Sedano is Italian for celery, a vegetable usually used for flavor but rarely a featured ingredient. But braised long and slow to that point of tenderness Italians prefer in their cooked vegetables, celery takes center stage.

Combine 2-3 chapped anchovies (preferably salt-packed), a couple of tablespoons of chopped capers (also preferably salt-packed and from Pantelleria; rinse if you want, but don’t add any salt if you don’t), a few cloves of chopped garlic, and a couple of big pinches of Pantellerian oregano with about a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt in a heavy saute pan. Heat gently until the garlic starts to soften, maybe 3-4 minutes.

Add 6-8 stalks of celery (including any leaves) that you’ve cut into pieces about 2 inches long. You can thinly peel the outer, convex edge of the stalks to remove any tough strings (I only do this to the thicker stalks from the outside of the bunch). Add about a quarter cup of water, cover, and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for about an hour or until the celery is very, very tender.

I import and sell both capers and oregano from Pantelleria (email me for details). Gustiamo is another good source for the capers; Amazon may have the oregano.