I like raw celery.

Specifically, now that I know what super-fresh celery that wasn’t trucked or flown over hundreds and thousands of miles to my local grocer tastes like, I like raw celery. It’s a revelation, really. I mean, I’ve always cooked with it – it’s one of the building blocks of so many dishes, after all – but the thought that I would actually see a recipe that features celery in its raw state and decide that I had to make that dish, immediately if not sooner, well, that’s something new.

My creation

It doesn’t hurt that the recipe also features pomegranate, one of the few fruits I truly love, and bulgur, an item I always have in my pantry but forget about unless I’m making tabboule, but the celery, those thin slices of crisp green goodness, the celery is what really made this dish sing for me.

Dinner:  January 6, 2008

I of course switched things up a bit from the original recipe, but the idea was the same, and the result was a beautiful mix of textures and flavors, earthy, bright, crunchy, sweet, tart – simply delicious and simple to make. The salad is substantial enough to stand alone, but I served it alongside lemony roast chicken breast. We loved the combination of flavors so much that we shredded some of the leftover chicken into the remaining salad for lunches this week.

Bulgur, Celery and Pomegranate Salad
Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s recipe on 101 Cookbooks

For the dressing:
1 garlic clove, mashed to a paste with coarse sea salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
1/4 cup best quality olive oil

For the salad:
1 cup medium or coarse bulgur
1 small bunch celery, leaves trimmed, stalks sliced thinly on the bias
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 cup picked flat-leaf parsley
1 cup picked fresh dill

For the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together until emulsified. Taste and add additional salt if desired, then set aside.

Put the bulgur in a large bowl and just cover with boiling water. Allow the bulgur to sit about 15 minutes – it will be soft but still have some bite to it. Add the celery, pomegranate seeds and walnuts, pour the dressing over and stir to blend. Add the parsley and dill and gently stir through. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

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