Riverford Wicked Leeks
Celery in sweet and sour tomato sauce recipe image

Print Celery in sweet and sour tomato sauce

This recipe is a little bit fiddly but very much worth it for the rich, subtle sauce it makes. This should be eaten at room temperature to fully appreciate the range of flavours. It's a lovely accompaniment to lamb, but would also be good as a pasta sauce. It'll keep well in the fridge for a couple of days.


  • 450g celery stalks
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes, or 450g tomatoes, skinned & chopped
  • 3 tbsp sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ star anise, broken into 'petals' (optional)
  • 14 black olives, pitted & sliced
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt & pepper


  1. Split the wider lower ends of the celery stalks in 2, then slice the whole lot thinly. Use either 2 frying pans to cook the celery, or cook in 2 batches. In each pan, heat 2½ tablespoons of oil and add half of the celery. Sauté over a brisk heat until browned - this takes quite some time as there's a good deal of water in celery to be evaporated off. Scoop out the celery.
  2. Sauté the onion in the same oil in one of the pans, adding a little extra oil if necessary until lightly browned. Add the tomatoes. Cook over a high heat for a few minutes until thick, then add the vinegar, sugar, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, if using, and a little salt and pepper. Return the celery to the pan. Simmer gently for a further 10 minutes. Stir in the olives and parsley. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then spoon into a serving dish and leave to cool.
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