Braised Celery Stalks with Onion, Pancetta, and Tomatoes
Cut off the celery’s leafy tops, and detach all the stalks from their base. Save the hearts for a salad. Use a swiveling-blade peeler to pare away most of the strings, and cut the stalks into pieces about 3 inches long.
Put the oil and onion in a sauté pan, and turn on the heat to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it wilts completely and becomes colored a light gold, then add the pancetta strips.
After a few minutes, when the pancetta’s fat loses its flat, white uncooked color and becomes translucent, add the tomatoes with their juice, the celery, salt, and pepper, and toss thoroughly to coat well. Adjust heat to cook at a steady simmer, and put a cover on the pan. After 15 minutes check the celery, cooking it until it feels tender when prodded with a fork. If while the celery is cooking, the pan juices become insufficient, replenish with 2 to 3 tablespoons of water as needed. If on the contrary, when the celery is done, the pan juices are watery, uncover, raise the heat to high, and boil the juices away rapidly. Serve promptly when done.