Friday, January 3, 2014

Celery Salad with Dates

These days it takes a particularly good recipe to bring me back here, but this one is so simple and surprising that I didn't want to leave it undocumented. I cleaned out a big pile of old magazines the other day, but I went through them first and pinned all the ones I had flagged with sticky notes and scraps of paper (it's an imperfect system but it works for me, heh). This little gem is from a back issue of Bon Appetit. The slightly salty crunch of the celery next to the sweetness of the dates is an unexpected and delightful combo.

Celery Salad with Dates
Serves 4 as a side

The original recipe called for a couple of ounces of shaved parmesan, which I skipped because I tasted it before I added cheese and loved it as is. The next day I ate the leftovers for lunch (they were a little soggy and the dates were kind of bloated, so I recommend you eat this one right when you make it), and I added some leftover crumbled bacon. The salty fattiness was a nice foil for the sweetness of the dates, so I'll add the parmesan next time I make this one. 

1/2 cup sliced almonds
8 stalks celery, thinly sliced on a strong bias
5 dates, pitted, roughly chopped
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper
a good size pinch of red pepper flakes (I used a combo of aleppo and maras pepper)
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 oz parmesan cheese or 4-5 strips of bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350, spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast until golden, about 5 minutes. Pro tip: don't leave the kitchen, and make sure you set a timer. Nuts are tricky, tricky buggers and they burn in like a second. I use the toaster oven and literally watch them toast, though in a small toaster oven with more hot spots, you'll probably want to stir them every couple of minutes.

Combine the celery, dates, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes in a bowl, squeeze the lemon juice over and toss. Add the parmesan, if using, and the almonds, and a splash of the olive oil, then taste and adjust the seasoning. If you want more heat, add more red pepper, or if it's too aggressively acidic, add a little more olive oil. If you're using the bacon instead of the cheese, sprinkle the crumbles over the top of the salad just before serving.

1 comment:

  1. Melissa Clark does a very similar recipe with walnuts instead of almonds. It sounds like we felt the same way about this salad: it was my fall infatuation.