I first ate this salad at one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants; a gem on a menu already crowded with excellent salads. It’s perfect for a crisp day–bright from lemon and parsley, crunchy with celery root and fennel, and creamy from the olive oil and shards of pecorino.
Eat this salad alone, as a light-ish lunch. I’ve served it with roast salmon. I imagine it would be delicious with fried or roast chicken, as a classier alternative to coleslaw. It also travels great–good for a desk lunch, plane or train picnic, or a potluck.
This salad can (and probably should) be made a few hours ahead, to give it time to rest and meld. It’s good for a few days in the refrigerator. (On the third day, the salad won’t look as bright and shiny–I might not show it off to guests–but it’s still tasty. The celery root and fennel will still be crunchy. I can tell you this for certain, since I’m currently sitting at my office desk, eating three day-old salad out of a quart container.) I use a mandoline to cut all three vegetables, plus the pecorino. I recommend using your best, finishing olive oil–you’ll really taste it and it makes a difference. —Cristina Sciarra
1 small bulb celery root
1 large fennel bulb
1 small red onion
1 large lemon (or 5 tablespoons lemon juice)
(a shallow 1/2 cup or 15 grams) chopped parsley
(a heaping 1/2 cup or 80 grams) thinly sliced pecorino cheese
First, prepare the vegetables. Start by peeling the celery root. If you have a mandoline with a julienne blade, use that to cut the celery root. Otherwise, by hand; aim for pieces 1/8-inch x 1/8-inch. Next, trim the fennel so that just the bulb remains. (If you have fronds, you can chop and add them to the salad.) Cut off the heel of the bulb, and then slice the bulb in half lengthwise. On a mandoline or by hand, slice each half crosswise, more thinly than the celery root. Cut the red onion in half lengthwise, and slice into wispy half moons. Toss the vegetables into a large mixing bowl.
Juice the lemon into the mixing bowl. With your hands, mix the juice evenly into the vegetables. Chop the parsley, and add it to the bowl. Thinly slice the pecorino–I used a mandoline again, but you can also do this by hand. Add the salt, pepper, pumpkin seeds, and olive oil to the bowl. Use your hands (or tongs) to evenly blend the salad ingredients. Divide the salad between plates; enjoy. You may drink the dressing that collects at the bottom of your bowl. I won’t judge.
Cristina is a writer, cook, and day job real estate developer. She studied literature, holds an MFA in Fiction Writing, and completed the Basic Cuisine course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She lives in Jersey City with her husband--a Frenchman she met in Spain--and their sweet black cat, Minou. Follow her writings, recipes, publications and photography at theroamingkitchen.com.