Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Celery Salads

My spontaneous lunch solution shots have been popular on my Instagram feed, so it gave me the idea to share some of the recipes here. I use the term "recipe" pretty loosely as that is the kind of cook I am. I never measure anything and am always sort of improvising with what I have on hand. These celery salads are excellent examples of that. I shop at the farmers market as much as possible, and in NYC we're lucky to have farmers markets all year round, but what's available in the winter is limited and after months of eating the same veggies sometimes you need to get creative and mix it up. There's a line in a David Tanis cookbook that I love where he mentions the "dead of winter, grocery store romaine salad." Sometimes, you gotta cheat a little.

This is a longer post than normal, so click through to read the rest, including "recipes"!

I've never used celery much, just as a vehicle for peanut butter or in mirepoix, maybe sometimes my boyfriend gets it for bloody marys; either way, occasionally there's a bunch in the fridge being neglected. I came up with these much the same way I come up with most of my meals: What do I have on hand and how do I make it work? One of them I came up with last winter and was smart enough to write it down, the other I threw together a week ago, posted it on Insta, and voila, now I'm blogging both.

Peashoots are a thing I can usually only get in spring, but some farmers must be making room for them in their greenhouses because I have been finding them pretty consistently this January. Sprouts are another one of my grocery store go to cheats.

Salad, left:
Pea Shoot, Alfalfa Sprout, and Celery Salad.

What goes in:
1 or 2 handfuls pea shoots
small chunck of alfalfa sprouts, maybe 1"x2"?
1-2 ribs celery
vinegar, oil
salt, pepper
toasted sesame seeds

What I do:
Throw pea shoots in a bowl. Pull out some sprouts and tear them apart and throw on top of pea shoots. Does that look like enough? Maybe a little more... Slice up some celery very thin and on an angle. Toss that on top. Salt. Pepper. Lots of pepper. Good amount of rice vinegar or white wine vinegar and a good, but modest drizzle of olive oil. Mix it all up. Top with toasted sesame seeds. Super simple. Pretty darn good. And, surely, pretty healthy.

Probably good with lemon instead of vinegar. Could add finely diced shallot or other onion-y thing you may have on hand, like scallion. If I were not eating this with some other leftovers and wanted to make a heartier meal out of it, I would add a hard boiled egg and eat it with toast.

Salad, right:
Celery, Kalamata Olive, and Scallion Salad.

What goes in:
2 ribs celery
6-9 olives
1-2 scallions
balsamic, oil
toasted almond slices
toasted sesame seeds

What I do:
Slice celery very thin and fancy style on a bias. Chop up olives. Slice scallions very thin, maybe also fancy style. Throw it all in a bowl. Sprinkle some salt. Splash some nice balsamic vinegar over it all; 15 year balsamic works particularly well in this salad, such great flavor. Drizzle with olive oil. Toss all together. Top with toasted almond slices and toasted sesame seeds. This makes one small salad, I'll usually have this with some left over something in my fridge for lunch. Could be a good small salad for two people to split along side other entrees at dinner too.

Also really good with some shredded kale mixed in if you have it. And/or korean chili flakes. If you don't have scallion regular old onions (white or red) or shallots work great too. Just dice them very small.

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