I love celery. I seriously love it. I keep slices in a refrigerator container and munch them like peanuts when I’m working. I love picking roasted pieces out of the “fond” under a chicken. Soups, oh yes. Radicchio is high on my list of likes as well. I put celery and radicchio together in this salad to take advantage of the best of many textures and flavors. Thin slices of sweet, crisp outer stalks of celery contrast with the tenderness of ultra-thin radicchio. Thin-sliced scallions deepen the flavors, while lemon and olive oil brighten them. Finally, you’ll make a celery-leaf pesto to turn into the salad’s dressing.
This is a perfect job for a mandoline. It will slice everything to uniform thicknesses, which in a slaw can be important. As well, when you slice the radicchio, you can simply leave it in the bin beneath the mandoline, fill the bin with water, and let the radicchio soak right there without using another bowl. Soaking radicchio diminishes some of it’s bitterness. If you don’t have a mandoline, take a look at your local cooking store. Several options are available in many price ranges, and in fact, you need not spend more than $20 or so to get a perfectly useful tool.
Serves 2 to 4, depending on serving size
- 4 crisp outer stalks celery, trimmed, leaves retained
- 1 small head radicchio, halved, cored
- 1 bunch scallions, 1/4” slice, green parts only
- Zest of 2 lemons (Meyer, if possible), retained
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Coarse sea salt
- A few grinds of pepper
- Celery leaves, minced
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1 clove garlic, smashed & peeled
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Additional lemon wedges
- Leave celery stalks whole. Hold each at an acute angle, and slice on thin setting of mandoline. If you don’t have a mandoline, use a chef’s knife held at an acute angle, and slice the celery as thin as possible. Transfer to salad bowl.
- Slice each half of radicchio also on the thin setting. Leave shreds in bin of mandoline, and fill the bin with cold water. Let radicchio soak for 5 minutes. If you don’t have a mandoline, shred radicchio using a knife and soak it in a mixing bowl. Soaking the radicchio for a few minutes will remove some of its natural bitterness. At end of that time, drain through a fine-mesh sieve. Transfer to salad bowl.
- Slice scallions and add to salad bowl. Toss vegetables to blend.
- Scatter about a teaspoon of coarse sea salt and some grinds of pepper over the salad. Squeeze lemon juice over, followed by 1/4 cup of olive oil. Toss to blend. Let sit for flavors to meld.
- Place lemon zest, celery leaves, coarse sea salt, and garlic in a mortar and pestle. I like to use a wooden one to make pestos because the rougher surfaces generate good friction. Blend for about a minute. Set aside for 10 minutes for flavors to blend.
- After rest period, whisk 1/4 cup of olive oil into the celery-lemon pesto. Use a spatula to scrape all of the dressing out onto the salad. Toss to blend.
- Serve salad on chilled plates with additional wedges of lemon.