Celery Salad with Hazelnuts, Dates, and Pecorino

The only time I remember getting worked up about celery was in the 9th grade when I learned that chewing a stalk of celery burns more calories than it contains.  For someone recently indoctrinated into the culture of dieting, this was exciting news. Since then, though, celery has played a minor role in my cooking, relegated to tuna salads, Bloody Marys, and little else.

That is until now.

Now I’m smitten with celery, at least in this simple little salad, which I’m afraid to admit I’ve eaten exactly four times in the past five days (my children are wondering what is wrong with me).

It’s a riff on a dish I ate at Estela when I was visiting my sister in New York City. The two of us plowed through a plate of celery with the sort of enthusiasm usually reserved for nachos or salted caramel ice cream. I was so taken with the mashup of nuts, dried fruit, and cheese that I interrogated our waiter for any details she was willing to spill.

After a few rounds in the kitchen back home, I think I’ve got it about right. You toss celery with oil, vinegar, and a tiny amount of sriracha for a touch of heat. Then add toasted hazelnuts, chewy dates, and salty Pecorino, which collectively play off the watery crunch of celery. It’s full of flavor, light, and loaded with texture.

I hope you like it as much as I do. And while I do believe the thing about celery and burning calories to be factual, I’m afraid the same is not true for the hazelnuts, dates, olive oil, or cheese that are on the plate.

Enjoy.

Celery Salad with Hazelnuts, Dates, and Pecorino

This salad proves there is much more you can do with a stalk of celery than pile on the peanut butter. Chewy dates, salty Pecorino, and earthy, sweet hazelnuts are great partners for the watery crunch of humble old celery.
Servings 4
Author katiemorford

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon  sriracha or other hot sauce
  • 6 stalks celery
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 4 Medjool dates, pitted, halved, and sliced thin
  • Pecorino cheese (about 1 ounce)

Instructions

  1. Pour the olive oil, vinegar, and sriracha onto a plate (a large salad plate will do). Use a fork to blend the sriracha into the oil and vinegar.
  2. Cut the celery crosswise at a diagonal into 1/4-inch-thick slices and pile onto the plate. Add a pinch of salt and use your hands or coat the celery with the oil and vinegar.
  3. Scatter the dates and hazelnuts over the top. Use a vegetable peeler to shave thin shards of Pecorino over the top. Toss gently.

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