Joshua McFadden has a knack for vegetables. You can thank him for the widespread love of the kale salad, which stemmed from the version he created while chef de cuisine at Franny's in Brooklyn. Currently, he's at the helm of Ava Gene's and its little sister restaurant, Roman Candle, both in Portland. The salads and vegetables are some of my favorite dishes on both menus. At a recent visit to Roman Candle, the waitress sold us on a new vegetable dish they were serving composed of celery, anchovy, raisins, and walnuts. It was fantastic -- crispy, crunchy, salty, fresh, and nutty. The humblest of ingredients combined into something magical. I'm not certain how it's made at Roman Candle, but this is my version. Note: Celery is one of the "dirty dozen" fruits and vegetables for pesticide contamination, so please buy organic :-) —hardlikearmour
Test Kitchen Notes
This impressive salad is an addictive mix of sweet, salty, and crunchy ingredients. Furthermore, hardlikearmour’s technique of soaking the celery in ice water provides some the crispest celery you’ve ever eaten. This dish comes together in no time at all and makes an often overlooked vegetable shine. You will be glad you made it! —Double Helping
Put all of the dressing ingredients in blender. Set aside to allow raisins to plump.
Fill salad spinner bowl with ice water. Cut away 3/4-inch of the root end from the head of celery. Separate and thoroughly clean the stalks, saving the pale celery “heart” for another use. Cut stalks along the bias into thin slivers -- this should yield around 5 cups. Place the celery slivers into the salad spinner basket, then place the basket in the ice water. If you are going to eat the salad later, put the salad spinner in the refrigerator -- otherwise allow the celery to crisp for 10 to 15 minutes, then proceed.
Blend dressing, scraping down the sides, until everything is thoroughly combined and no large raisin chunks remain.
To complete the salad, drain the celery and spin to dry, starting and stopping the spinner several times to fling off as much water as possible. Combine the celery, walnuts, and raisins in a large bowl. Drizzle with about half of the dressing and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt. Toss to combine. Add more dressing if needed. Transfer to a serving dish, and garnish with black pepper and flaky salt. Serve.
I am an amateur baker and cake decorator. I enjoy cooking, as well as eating and feeding others. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our menagerie. I enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mushroom hunting, tide pooling, beach combing, and snowboarding.