Holy holidays! I feel like I just got my ass kicked and handed to me. I literally fell off the grid for two weeks and for that I am extremely sorry. I had great hopes and dreams of live blogging my Thanksgiving preparation and execution. That plan kind of crashed and burned when I had my elbows deep in duck fat making my turkey confit, while trying to skim my turkey stock, blend my parsnip purée, render bacon fat and make garlic confit simultaneously. Just thinking about it now is giving me the shakes.
I digress. My Thanksgiving was simply fabulous (and fattening) and now that it’s over I am ready for a little detox. Appropriately I decided to make my comeback with this stellar (and very seasonal) salad that requires no cooking. It’s the soon-to-be famous Pink Pearl Apple, Fennel and Celery Salad. It’s super crunchy, refreshing, light and packed with flavor.
After cooking for literally four straight days, no joke, I did not want to turn a single pan on. I would have opted for takeout only but I was feeling a little chunky so salad was the next best thing. All of these ingredients (sans the blue cheese) come from the organic produce experts Goodness Greeness. Not only can they get you your basic organic produce, like the celery in this salad, they also feature specialty items like the Pink Pearl Apples. I learned that this type of apple has been around for a while and it gets its pink-flesh from crossbreeding. Either way it tastes tart like a Granny Smith and has a beautiful pink interior. It is sure to impress.
(You could definitely substitute the Pink Pearl Apple for another crisp and tart variety like Honeycrisp, Fuji, Granny Smith, Piñata, Jazz, etc)
In addition to apples, the salad also features celery and fennel. I love fennel for its crispy texture and mild anise flavor. Additionally, I used the fennel fronds (the green tops) as a garnish. The best way to slice the fennel super thin is to use a Japanese mandoline, my favorite being the Benriner Japanese Mandoline. I usually opt for the wider one that comes with a few different types of blades. It’s cheap, super sharp (I have literally cut the tips of both of my thumbs off), lightweight and compact. You’ll find yourself using it for more things than you thought.
**If you don’t have a Japanese mandoline then just slice the fennel as thin as possible with a sharp knife.
Once the fennel is sliced keep it in ice water. The fennel will stay crunchy and it will start to get all frizzled (is that a real word? you know what I mean). Also very important: dry off the fennel once it’s out of the ice water. No one likes a soggy salad. No one.
In addition to using the fennel fronds, I also used the celery leaves. They are tasty and add nice greenery to the salad. Overall this is an extremely healthy salad. Almost too healthy. I couldn’t just leave it alone. Also, how enticing is this salad for the average eater? Not too enticing. So I did what any person does when they want someone to eat an über healthy salad…add cheese! Ba-hahaha. Got you! Just a teeny, tiny bit of crumbled blue cheese and all of a sudden people are into shaved raw veggie salad. Works every time.
To finish, I lightly dress the salad with olive oil and lemon juice. I am definitely not even pulling out a whisk. This is the lazy man’s (or woman’s) salad. You could slice everything on the mandoline and not be bothered to even pick up a knife.
I’m sure for most people this is not their ideal wintertime dish. But once again, I urge you to try something different. Plus after cooking for the holidays, making braises on the weekends, using your slow cooker during the week, you will want to make something in 5 minutes or less that won’t make you bloated for days. Plus there is blue cheese in here.
- 1 organic fennel bulb, thinly sliced, keep in ice water for 5-10 minutes (save 1 tbsp of fennel fronds)
- 3 stalks organic celery, thinly sliced (save 2 tbsp of celery leaves)
- 2 organic Pink Pearl apples, thinly sliced (or another crisp and tart variety)
- ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
- 1 tbsp leave juice
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Combine fennel, celery and apples in large bowl.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Add fennel fronds, celery leaves and blue cheese.
- Add lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil and toss gently to combine.
- Season again with salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve immediately.