Celery doesn’t get a lot of respect. In most recipes, it’s an also-ran.
But great American cheese maker Paula Lambert shows how it can be a main ingredient, in her Shaved Fennel and Celery Heart Salad.
You can eat this salad as an appetizer or side, as a base for a poached chicken breast or salmon fillet, or as cheese course with a pungent washed rind cheese. The hazelnut oil is an inspired touch.
The recipe is from Lambert’s cookbook, Cheese Glorious Cheese: More Than 75 Tempting Recipes for Cheese Lovers Everywhere.
If you can’t find fennel, use 6 ribs of celery. And use this recipe as a jumping-off point to create your own celery salads.
Photo © Ulterior Epicure, all rights reserved.
CELERY & FENNEL SALAD RECIPE
Ingredients For 4 Servings
Bianca Bianca is a pungent (“srinky”) raw
milk cheese with a creamy, soft texture. It’s
washed with white wine as it ages. Photo
courtesy Mozzarella Company.
1. REMOVE the strings on the outsides of the ribs of celery and fennel using a vegetable peeler. Cut the ribs on the diagonal, into slices about 1/4 inch thick.
2. PLACE the celery and fennel in a medium-sized bowl.
3. CUT the cheese into thin slices and then cut again into small pieces about 1 inch square; add to the bowl.
4. CHOP the pecans coarsely and add to the bowl. Add the onions.
5. MAKE the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, combine the oils, vinegar, salt and pepper. Whisk the ingredients until the vinaigrette is emulsified.
6. POUR the vinaigrette over the salad ingredients. Toss well to coat the salad. The salad can be served immediately or set aside for up to an hour to marinate. Plate, garnish and serve.
BIANCA BIANCA WASHED RIND CHEESE
Blanca Bianca was inspired by French washed rind cheeses: soft in texture and very flavorful. The Mozzarella Company makes it in a six-inch wheel.
As a washed rind cheese, it has a pungent aroma that comes from the bacteria Brevibacterium linens (B. linens) that develops on the exterior of the cheese.The rind is tender and delicious, and the interior paste is pale and creamy.
“The flavor is assertive but not too strong,” says Lambert. “To make Blanca Bianca we heat farm-fresh cow’s milk and then add cultures and rennet. Once the milk coagulates, we cut the curds and gently stir them as they mature. Finally the curds are poured into molds to drain. The cheeses are salted in a brine and then placed on racks to dry.
“During the next two months, while the wheels of cheeses are maturing, they are massaged daily with white wine. The USA laws governing raw milk cheeses mandate that all raw-milk cheeses must be aged for a minimum of 60 days before they are sold. So, after 60 days, Blanca Bianca is ready to sell.
“However, we have found that additional aging allows the flavor to intensify and the texture to soften, so we age our Blanca Bianca for three or four months. We have a limited quantity of Blanca Bianca because we produce only 20 wheels at a time. It is wonderful with both red and white wines, and it pairs very nicely with late harvest dessert wines. It is good with fruits such as pears and apples. It’s also great with toasted nuts and dried fruits as well as fruit pastes, jams and chutneys. It is especially good in salads.”
Check your local cheese store or purchase Bianca Bianca online directly from MozzCo.com, Mozzarella Company’s website.