Celery and Endive Salad

Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews

Ten minutes work to make yourself a terrific meal!

If you’re looking for something light, refreshing, and vegetable-centric to offset some of the heavier eating that I imagine many will be doing this weekend, consider this super tasty celery and endive salad. It’s one of my favorites to make this time of year when heirloom celery is available from local farms here in southeast Michigan. If the only celery you’ve eaten came from supermarkets, when you try this celery you might be in for a bit of shock and awe in the best possible way. It’s about 20 times more flavorful than the commonly available commercial offerings. I will add that once you taste it, you’ll have a hard time going back to the mass-market version. Real, farm-grown, local celery, is a whole ‘nother world altogether. When I tasted fresh, heirloom celery for the first time years ago, I was shocked—it was so significantly more flavorful, intense, and exceptional than any celery I’d ever eaten or even imagined. Really, it was a revelation. It’s like the difference between commercial olive oil from the supermarket and artisan Oro di Milas oil.

Over the years, this salad has become one of my all-time favorites. It’s so simple, it’s almost silly. Just don’t take the time to make it unless you have good celery—since the celery is the centerpiece of the dish, there’s no point doing it without something that’s really flavorful. Simply slice some organic celery from the farmers market fairly thin. Do the same with a Belgian endive. (If you don’t find the endive, you can just use celery on its own.) Toss the slices with a sprinkling of good sea salt (fleur de sel is good here because of its delicate texture). Toss on a bunch of shaved Parmigiano Reggiano. The flavorful green punch of the celery and the delicate bitterness of the endive are excellent contrasts to the richness of the Parmigiano Reggiano. If you like, you can add chopped, toasted walnuts as well (that’s what I do). Toss the whole thing with a touch of white wine vinegar (or some juice of freshly squeezed citrus—lemon, orange, or grapefruit all work well) and plenty of good fruity olive oil (the Oro di Milas oil would be wonderful). The olive oil pulls the whole thing together very nicely. Get a glass of good white wine and a big chunk of Country Miche or Paesano bread from the Bakehouse and have at it!

As I said, I’ve been making this salad in season regularly for many years now. The other day, though, I had the thought to add anchovies. I used some of the wonderful new offerings I’ve had on my mind that we have from the folks at Fishwife. I love the great umami flavor the anchovies add to the salad!