“This is really easy, and lovely when served at a drinks party with other nibbles. You can pretty much pickle anything using this method, and recycle the drained pickle liquid. As this is a cheat’s pickle, it will only keep in the fridge for a few days. ”
Peel and slice the shallot lengthways. Put the cider vinegar, shallot, bay leaves, spices and 150ml water in a stainless-steel saucepan along with a few good pinches of sea salt. Bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes or so to give the aromatics time to flavour the liquid.
Peel and cut the celery into 5cm chunks. Drop the celery into the pickling liquid and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes, or until the celery is heated through but still with a good bit of crunch; this really depends on how thick the stalks are. While the celery is poaching in the pickle, crush the olives gently with your thumb to flatten them down to the stone. Don’t remove the stones, but drop the squashed olives in with the celery for the last minute of cooking.
Pour the pan’s contents through a sieve set over a bowl (discard the pickling liquid or use once again) and leave to drain and cool. Refrigerate until you want to serve, then tip into a bowl and toss with a splash of olive oil, sea salt and a little pepper.