Over the years I have accumulated quite a few kitchen gadgets. Some of them are useful, some things just lie in my kitchen drawer and have only been used once or twice. Egg slicer, anyone? Having said that, I must add that I do have some pieces of equipment that make me unbelievably happy every time I use them. One of those items is a mandoline which I received over 15 years ago as a xmas present from my friend Katja. The model I have is adjustable which allows you to slice even the hardest vegetable into paper-thin slices. It effortlessly transforms cucumbers into transparent discs, fennel shavings appear as a whisper on top of salads and potatoes can be sliced evenly for a gratin. I think there are very few people in this world who have the knife skills to compete with a good-quality mandoline.
Coming to speak of leftovers. Since a mandoline can turn even the most mundane produce into a stunning ingredient in any dish, I find it an extremely helpful tool to make use of your leftovers. If you get one that is adjustable in height (which allows you to choose the thickness of your slices) and has a sharp blade, it is a pleasure to use.
Celery is an ingredient I often have leftover. You buy a whole bunch and usually need only a stalk or two. A few years ago I read of a salad with thinly sliced celery, parmesan and lemon. There were no quantities given, but I find to make this simple summery salad you don’t need exact quantities. I usually make it by guess and by gosh. Often I use finely grated lemon zest and the juice to scatter over the salad. This time I wanted to make use of preserved lemons, because I have quite a few jars of them in my fridge. Note to self: preserved lemons will be another good blog post for the future. There are more ways to be creative here. If I have some parsley that has to be used, I add that. A poached egg is a lovely topping and makes it more substantial. You can use other hard cheeses such as manchego or pecorino if that’s what you have. Do you have any salads you like to make with leftover celery?
Celery parmesan and lemon salad
one leftover bunch of celery
finely grated zest lemon zest and lemon juice (or the skin of 1/2 preserved lemon, finely chopped)
extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
addtional toppings (I used celery seeds, chopped parsley or toasted pine nuts would also be good)
Remove the leaves and from the celery and roughly chop. Set aside. Slice the celery into approximately 2 mm slices using a mandoline or very sharp knife and put into a bowl. Shave the parmesan into thin slices with a vegetable peeler or also on the mandoline. Add this to the celery, scatter over the celery leaves, grated lemon zest (or chopped preserved lemon) and any addtional toppings. Mix gently with your hands and drizzle over the lemon juice and olive oil. Season to taste and mix again gently with your hands. Serve with crusty white bread and a glass of white wine (to make life even better). Sicily here I come again!