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Celery Baked in Vinaigrette with Pancetta and Shallots

This is a great way to serve celery as a vegetable. I used silicone paper (baking parchment) for this as it looks very pretty if you take the whole parcel to the table – otherwise foil would do. For 4 to 6 people, you can double the ingredients and make two parcels.

 

 
 
 Celery Baked in Vinaigrette with Pancetta and Shallots

  Serves 2

Ingredients
 1 head celery
 3 slices pancetta or smoked streaky bacon
 6 shallots, peeled (and split if the bulbs are dividing)
 3 tablespoons light olive oil
 1 or 2 thyme sprigs
 1 rosemary sprig
 4 sage leaves
 1 dessertspoon white wine vinegar
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 9, 475°F (240°C).
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Equipment

You will also need a double thickness of silicone paper (parchment), 15 x 24 inches when folded (38 x 60 cm), and a large solid baking tray.

 

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection

Method

Begin by removing the tough outer layers of the celery, then pare the outside of the root off, but leave it attached. Now cut across the celery about 3½ inches (9 cm) from the base. Stand the lower half upright and cut vertically through the centre.

Then cut each half into 4 to make 8 pieces, keeping them attached to the root. Save a couple of nice leaves (preferably attached to a small stem) and trim the top pieces of celery to a similar length to the base, cutting off any really tough and stringy edges.

Now wash all the pieces and dry them on kitchen paper.

Next heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan, then lightly brown the celery and shallots, keeping them on the move so they brown evenly.

Now transfer them to a plate. Increase the heat under the pan, add the pancetta and fry the slices until they're really crisp – it will take 2-3 minutes and you'll need to keep turning them.

Next lay the silicone paper over the baking tray and lightly grease a circle of 9 inches (23 cm) on it. Arrange the celery in an attractive shape on the paper, putting the prettiest pieces on the top, add the shallots, thyme, rosemary and sage leaves in among it, and season with salt and pepper.

Now combine the remaining olive oil and wine vinegar, sprinkle that over the vegetables, followed by the pancetta crumbled into pieces with your hands.

Next fold the silicone paper over and seal, making pleats, all round – you may find a couple of metal (not plastic) paper clips useful here, as it's essential to keep the steam trapped inside.

Place the parcel in the pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes.

After that carefully unwrap the paper – you may need scissors – and serve the vegetables with the juices spooned over.

 

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