Fancy dinner, accidental celery salad
One of my all time favorite vegetables is celery. I just love it! I used to buy stalks by the pound, cut them into small sticks, and keep them in my refrigerator to snack on throughout the day. I’ve always loved the crunch of every bite!
Years ago, while living in Singapore, my roommate would make fun of me saying, “You and my rabbit snack on the same food all day long!”
Because of my affinity for celery, I’m always creating and finding ways to mix it into my foods. It’s a lovely addition in savory and sweet dishes, cooked or raw, and it’s a great source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. It also helps with inflammation and digestion.
Many years ago, while living in Singapore, I was invited to a friend’s house to celebrate New Year’s Eve. I had promised to bring a salad. My friends used to host very fancy dinners, and young Joha felt intimidated by the elegance of their foods. I thought that a humble salad was probably the best option for me to bring.
As I was preparing to leave my house that evening, ready to walk to my friends’ place, I realized that I completely forgotten the salad! It was New Year’s Eve and I didn’t have time to go to the store, but I didn’t want to show up at their door empty handed.
I ran into my kitchen trying to figure out something quick, I only had green apples sitting on my counter, some breakfast items in my pantry: cranberries, walnuts, oatmeal, and some other items. I opened my fridge hoping there was something like spinach or tomatoes. As I rummaged through the items, I realized that the only useable items I had was celery and lime.
So I improvised. I chopped the celery and the apples, squeezed the juice of the lime all over them, and started adding some of the things that I had on hand: walnuts, cranberries, and some feta cheese (because life is better with cheese).
I write this as a confession, but it’s obvious that this salad was the result of my forgetfulness and a little bit of “lets see what I can make with this,” but the quick salad was a huge success! My friends loved it, and my accident was the perfect compliment to the rest of the dinner. It had depths of flavor - it was fresh and delicious, sweet but acidic, crunchy and creamy. It contained all the elements of deliciousness!
From that day forward, that unintended salad became a staple in my kitchen, and a lesson that sometimes using what I have at hand, improvising and being creative gives better results than complaining about what I lack.
You never know what good things can come from that!
Today I would like to share this recipe with all of you!
Joha’s accidental celery salad
4 celery stalks, chopped into pieces about ¼ inch thick (about ½ cm)
2 green apples, julienned
A handful of raisins
A handful of dried cranberries
A handful of walnuts
A handful of feta cheese*
1 Lime (juice)
A dash of black pepper (to taste)
A dash of salt (to taste)
* Goat cheese, queso fresco or queso panela are good – and in some cases - cheaper options.
Mix all the ingredients, and make sure to add the lime juice and cheese at the end, right before serving.
** PAIRING SUGGESTIONS FROM THE SOMMELIER:
Usually, the wine pairing is determined by the protein with which this salad is accompanied. Here, we have different options:
- If you eat this salad with shrimp: Chardonnay is a good option.
- If you substitute the lemon juice for mandarin juice: Riesling would be a great pairing.
- Pinot Grigio is suggested too.
Try this recipe and share your experience with us using #johastable