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Celery Salad with Pears, Walnuts and Blue Cheese

December 12, 2011 | Tags: Deborah Madison , Food , Fruit , Vegetables | Post comment

Celery Salad with Pears, Walnuts and Blue Cheese

Celery is plentiful, inexpensive, easy to work with, and needs no cooking so it’s what I turn to for salads in winter rather than lettuce, which tends to be not at its best and also pretty pricey. It’s easy to make the salads fancy, as this one is with the inclusion of pears, nuts, and cheese, or keep them simple, more in the Waldorf style. One thing aboiut celery is that you don’t need a lot to find it satisfying. A half-cup per person is probably enough, especially if you add the pears and walnuts, and a 15-ounce celery bunch will yield about 5 cups once trimmed and sliced. A half bunch is enough for four servings.

A few tips: Take a moment to first wash and then run a peeler over the tougher, darker green outer stalks. The strings can be unpleasantly chewy and it takes just a minute or two to make them smooth and pleasant to eat.  Also, be sure to use the leaves, especially the paler ones. They have lots of flavor and there’s no reason to discard them. You could also mix them with parsley or fresh dill to good effect. Chopped arugula would be excellent here too with the pears and walnuts and a nice addition of greens.

As for the nuts, you could choose another—almonds, pecans, hazelnuts. If I use omega-3 rich walnuts, I like to use walnut oil for it’s complimentary rich, savory flavor, but a full flavored olive oil is good here as well. (Sometimes I don’t even add the oil, just a squeeze of lemon juice.) I don’t make a dressing but add the ingredients, toss, taste and make adjustments as needed. What could be easier?

Ingredients

7 ounces celery, about ½ inch
1/3 cup walnuts
1 small, ripe pear such as a Bartlett
slivers  or crumbles of blue cheese (optional)
chopped celery greens, parsley, dill, or a mixture
1 tablespoon walnut oil or extra virgin olive oil
a scant teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice, to taste
pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preparation

1.  Peel any stalks that look especially tough and stringy. Wash all of them well, paying attention to the bases where dirt seems to collect. Then slice them thinly crosswise or on the diagonal as you wish.

2.  Put the celery in a bowl. Chop the greens and add them as well. If the pear is organic, wash it and leave the skin on. Otherwise peel it then slice it into the salad. Add the nuts, blue cheese, oil, vinegar and salt and toss well.  Taste and adjust for salt and vinegar if more of either are needed.  Season with pepper and serve.

Makes 4 small salads