Crunchy Christmas Salad

This salad is from a shoot I did for Food & Wine Magazine some years ago. It was actually for a Thanksgiving story, but this could be made any time of year. Of course you have to love celery if you’re going to make it, but if you don’t love it, you could always substitute cucumber, blanched beans, cooked brussels sprouts, even leafy greens such as lettuce, arugula or spinach.
The wonderful thing about this is the difference in tastes, textures and colours.The crunchy green, the salty white pecorino cheese, the sweet black dates and the nutty toasty brown walnuts. The recipe calls for walnut oil….but who just happens to have walnut oil in their kitchen cupboard? Not me, so I just used olive oil. If you don’t have shallots, use a quarter of an onion and chop very finely. This would go brilliantly with the typical full cream fatty foods that one will definitely consume at this time of year….it’s lean, green and extra clean and makes you feel, well, like you did something right.
YUM!

1 1/4 cups walnuts
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons walnut oil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 bunches celery (2 pounds/ 900 grams), thinly sliced on the bias
3/4 cup dried pitted Medjool dates, quartered lengthwise
3 ounces / 85 grams dry pecorino cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler

Preheat the oven to 350° farenheit/ 175 celcius. Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and toast for about 8 minutes, until lightly golden and fragrant. Let cool completely, then coarsely chop.
In a small bowl, combine the shallot with the sherry vinegar. Whisk in both oils and season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, toss the toasted walnuts, celery, dates and pecorino. Add the dressing and toss. Serve at once.
MAKE AHEAD The salad and dressing can be refrigerated separately for up to 1 day. Store the walnuts in an airtight container and add to the salad just before serving.

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3 responses

  1. Ailbhe

    Is there lettuce in this salad? I can see it in the picture but not in the list of ingredients. (Or maybe I did too much Christmas partying last night.)

    December 16, 2012 at 10:01 am

    • LoL, no there isn’t lettuce, but what you are seeing are the leaves of the celery plant…you know on the inside you get the light green stalks and the very tender leaves…I believe that is what the food stylist used. But you can add lettuce if you like, or spinach, arugula…..any leafy green. It will all work in this salad.
      Happy Holidays, and happy partying ;-)

      December 16, 2012 at 1:31 pm

      • Ailbhe

        Thank you so much for your quick reply! Sounds and looks great…Happy Holidays yourself!

        December 16, 2012 at 3:28 pm

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