makes 4 servings
1 bunch celery hearts
1 slice day old bread, soaked in 1/4 cup milk and squeezed dry.
1 pound lean ground beef
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 3 TBS olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups peeled and coarsely chopped ripe tomatoes
1. Separate the celery stalks and remove the stringy fibers with a peelr or paring knife. Cut into thirty-two 2 1/2 inch pieces.
2. Put the celery in a medium saucepan, add 1 teaspoon salt and water to cover, and bring to a boil. Cover and cook until tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain and let cool.
3. Place the soaked bread in a medium bowl. Add the beef, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, amd 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and mix well to combine. Shape into 16 small balls.
4. Put 1/2 cup flour in a small bowl. Place 1 meatball between 2 pieces of celery and press so that they hold together. Roll in the flour and lay on a tray. Repeat with the remaining celery and meatballs.
5. In a small bowl, beat the remaining 2 eggs with a pinch of salt. Put the remaining 1/2 cup flour in another small bowl. Heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a large heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat until very hot. Dip each piece of celery in the beaten eggs, letting the excess drop off, then dredge in the flour and place in the hot oil. Fry, turning occassionally, until golden on all sides.
6. Transfer the celery to a large skillet that holds it in a single layer. Add the garlic, tomatoes, remaining 3 TBS olive oil, remaining TBS of parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Place over medium heat and cook, covered, for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.