When I decided to make this salad, I had in mind to use just fennel and celery in a light citrus dressing. But while slicing veggies and munching on a baguette, I thought maybe it would be yummy to toast some of that up and add it to the salad, making a panzanella of sorts. So, in went the bread pieces along with a few other yummies and this dish was the result.
It's now far and away my favorite salad and I've made it every night so far this week. Any leftovers make for a terrific lunch too. The bread makes it substantial enough while still being light.
I'm a big fan of celery. Most people think of it as nothing more than those fibrous stalks on a crudite platter or a vehicle for peanut butter. Not so! The innermost heart of the celery bunch is incredibly flavorful and super tender and the little green leaves at the top of the bunch pack the most flavor of all. Look for celery with the full leaves in tact or buy a bunch with as many as you can find. Sometimes in the summer you'll find 'cutting celery' at the farmers market which is not celery at all but an herb with intense celery flavor whose appearance resembles parsley. That would be delicious here but it's a little early in the season for that, at least in my neck of the woods.
Make this salad tonight and let me know how you enjoy it. I think this might also become one of your new favorites!
For the salad:
Yields about 4 cups
1 medium head fennel, cored, about 2 TB fronds reserved, diced into 1 1/2" pieces
5 stalks celery hearts, plus 2 TB leaves reserved, diced into 1 1/2" pieces
zest of 1/2 orange
flesh of 1 medium orange, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
1/2 cup diced fresh mozzarella
4 radishes, very thinly sliced
1/3 french baguette, toasted and sliced into 1 1/2" pieces
1 TB fresh italian parsley, finely chopped
3 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 TB fresh lemon juice
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1) Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Slice the baguette and brush each piece with 1 TB olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Toast on the baking sheet for about 8 minutes until lightly golden. Set aside to cool before slicing into 1 1/2" pieces.
2) In a large bowl, combine the orange zest, lemon juice, and 2 TB olive oil with a bit of salt & pepper. Whisk to emulsify. Add the sliced celery & leaves, sliced fennel & fronds, radishes & parsley and toss in the dressing to coat the mixture well. Add the toasted bread, the mozzarella and the orange segments and toss gently to combine all together. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Enjoy!