Who knew?

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.

15 thoughts on “Who knew?

  1. Stephanie says:

    This salad looks delicious except for one important element (to me): I strongly dislike celery. I mean, so strongly that I cannot handle even smelling celery or being near someone who has just eaten (usually raw) celery. I don’t know what my problem is, but there it is.

    Everything else in the salad sounds and looks great. Perhaps you can suggest a celery substitute?

  2. Jennifer Hess says:

    Hi Greg! I know, I tend to just sprinkle them over salads, so it’s nice to change things up a bit!

    Neera – definitely do try it. And thank you for that delicious bread! We opened it up and stared eating chunks with our fingers!

    Stephanie – well, for me the celery was a big part of how well the dish worked for me, and I used to really hate the stuff. The only thing that comes to mind is perhaps some sliced scallions/green onions? They’ll give you color and some crunch, without the flavor of celery. Anyone else have thoughts on this?

  3. I really need to buy Heidi’s cookbook. Everything I’ve seen cooked from it looks and sounds so appealing, especially this salad. I love raw celery, always have… Especially in my bloody marys ;-)

  4. Jennifer Hess says:

    ann – I ordered both from Amazon and got them yesterday! I really can’t wait to dig in and try more of her recipes.

  5. That is beautiful – I love the ideas of everything mixed together. It just SOUNDS good. I’ve been really big on veggies and fruits lately, and this sounds really healthy and refreshing with the lemon and fresh herbs.

    Very nice. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Lynn says:

    I made this salad for dinner tonight and loved it. I was wondering what I was going to do with my pomegrantes and this was perfect. Thanks for posting the recipe.

  7. Jennifer Hess says:

    Toni – thanks! I think it’s a natural response for those of us who (over)indulged during the holidays to want to lighten things up a bit in January – I know I’ve definitely been craving lighter things. :)

    Lynn – I’m so glad you liked it!

  8. I like celery too. I sometimes marinate cutted celery with salt for minutes and rinse them. It’s a kinda salad. I serve it with marinated dried petit tomato or just add seasoning.

  9. I wonder if bell pepper would work in place of celery for Stephanie? It would change the flavor of the dish quite a bit, but maybe some yellow or orange bell peppers instead would still add some sweetness and crunch.

    As for me, pomegranates are on my list of things to conquor. I love eating them – but I generally make a mess when I try to get the seeds out and end up just … eating them. I need to learn how to handle this.

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