Radish-celery salad

(ZARA TZANEV for the boston globe)
February 27, 2008

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Serves 4

During the dark days of winter, when mixed green California lettuces look pitiful in their bags, experiment with radishes. The season for the crisp red vegetables with their characteristic peppery bite is spring and fall, but like apples and potatoes, they store well throughout the chilly months. This simple salad takes about 10 minutes to prepare, making it ideal for that last-minute decision to put supper together yourself instead of getting takeout. Many of the ingredients for this forgiving dish might be in the fridge already; you can always skip something like parsley if you don't have it. No shallots in the house? Then use that quarter of a red onion sitting forlorn in the vegetable bin. No Champagne vinegar? Red wine vinegar or lemon juice will do. The beauty of this salad is that you can't ruin it. Any acid subdues the radish's bitterness and brings out its sweetness. Soon your salad options will be bountiful. Until then, this will keep things interesting.

1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon whole grain mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 bunch radishes, very finely sliced
4 inner stalks celery, very finely sliced
1/4 cup sliced celery leaves
6 large parsley leaves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon capers
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small wedge Parmesan cheese, cut into thin slices

1. In a small bowl combine the shallot, mustard, vinegar, and a pinch each of salt and pepper; set aside for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the radishes, celery, celery leaves, parsley leaves, and capers.

3. Whisk the olive oil into the vinegar mixture. Pour the dressing over the radish mixture and toss to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Transfer to a large plate and top with the Parmesan slices. Jill Santopietro