The first time I made this, my significant other opened the front door, walked in, and exclaimed, “DAMN, apparently you have been eating some garlic.”
I sure had. This is, quite simply, the best salad I have ever shoved down my facehole.
I had never heard of Gabrielle Hamilton (at least on a conscious level) before I read her memoir Blood, Bones, & Butter. (With a title like that, there is simply no ignoring this chef.) Everything she described sounded, well, astounding. I finished the book and wanted to eat and eat and eat and eat some more. If you’re getting the idea that my deadly sin is gluttony, you’re pretty much on track.
All of a sudden, after I read the book, Ms. Hamilton seemed to be everywhere — but nothing captured my imagination like her celery, fennel, and radish salad served with buttered blue cheese toasts.
Two things: her recipe calls for far more dressing than you actually need. Make it and reserve half, because you WILL make this salad again. Also, her recipe yields much more than 4 servings, at least in my experience.
This is my streamlined, budget-girl version. If you can afford it, dress it up with fancier ingredients and actual blue cheese buttered toasts, but if you just want an amazing salad for a week, MAKE THIS.
I’ve tried it her way, and I have also tried my (budget) way: less fennel (which is kind of expensive here), adding celery leaves, blue cheese crumbles in the mix instead of on buttered toast, and they are both amazing. If you want carbs, make croutons.
Do it my way or do it Ms. Hamilton’s, but do it. If you don’t like blue cheese, replace it with feta or a nutty Parmesan If you don’t like cheese at all, you can skip it. THIS RECIPE IS GENIUS AND IT WORKS FOR EVERYONE. Except garlic/celery haters, I suppose. (If you think you don’t like fennel or radishes, think again.)
A mandoline makes quick and precise work of this salad, but do be careful. (You can definitely slice 2 radishes at the same time with the finger guard, though!)
The genius is all Ms. Hamilton’s — I just adapted for budgetary, transportability, and laziness needs.
For the Salad
- 1 head of celery
- 1 medium head of fennel, stalks removed, 2-3 fronds removed
- 1 bunch scallions
- ⅓ pound sugar snap peas
- 2 bunches of red radishes, tops removed and well washed
- 1/2 c. blue cheese crumbles (or feta, or parmesan — whatever you prefer)
- 5 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2-3 fennel fronds, chopped
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. With a sharp knife, thinly slice the celery and the fennel and toss together.
2. Sliver the scallions and sugar snap peas on the bias and add to the fennel and celery.
3. With a sharp knife or mandoline, thinly slice the radishes and add to the salad.
4. Grate the garlic on a microplane, or mince well.
5. Mix together the garlic, oil, fennel fronds, and lemon juice and dress the salad.
6. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss well. Let stand.
7. Add blue cheese to the salad, taste, and add more cheese, salt, and pepper if necessary.