Sicilian Celery, Fennel and Olive Salad

Sicilian Celery, Fennel and Olive Salad | OurItalianTable.com

During my recent Sicily trip, I spent a few mornings around the docks in Castellammare del Golfo, a fishing village that I was using as my base to explore western Sicily. All the restaurants along the water’s edge had gorgeous displays of locally caught fresh fish. On the days that I stayed in the village, my routine would be to wander down to the docks in the morning, shoot some photos of the fishing boats and fishermen (trying hard not to piss off any of the fishermen as I did on my first morning 😳 ), then find a rock along the water’s edge to catch my journal up on recent activities. Around mid-day, I would tuck into one of the restaurants for a nice looooong leisurely lunch.

My lunch was typically one of those beautiful fish, grilled and doused with lemon, along with an order of a crispy green salad and a glass of local white. At one of those restaurants, my fish arrived served with a simple-looking celery and fennel salad. Now, celery is quite possibly the world’s most underrated vegetable. I am totally guilty of turning my nose up at this humble vegetable.

But one bite of this delicious salad had me reaching for my pen and journal to take notes on this yummy combination. It was refreshing and crunchy, salty and sweet – a tangle of celery, fennel, green olives, and golden raisins with some chopped pistachios and parsley mixed in for good measure. It went on the ‘MAKE THIS RECIPE AT HOME’ list (which was growing shockingly long after only a few days in Sicily).

The humble celery (sedano in Italian), is about 95% water and has quite a few surprising nutritional qualities. It is potassium-rich, a wonderful source of electrolytes, and is known to have significant anti-inflammatory properties. Having this recipe in my arsenal will certainly make me eat more celery!

Sicilian Celery, Fennel, and Olive Salad

I love that the restaurant used the classic Sicilian combination of sweet and sour for this salad – the crispy celery and fennel against the bite of the briny green Castevetrano olives and the sweetness of the raisins. I have now made this a few times since I have been back at home. It has been part of an antipasto. I have served it as a side along with grilled fish or chicken. I have put it out as a snack with crackers when unexpected friends arrived. Super versatile!

Do not hesitate to play around with the ingredients. I subbed in chopped dates when I didn’t have raisins in the pantry. I added a lone crispy apple that needed to be used. And my fave addition – I added shaved Pecorino.

Be sure and use fresh, crispy celery for the recipe. This isn’t the recipe for the few stalks that have been hanging out in your refrigerator for a few weeks – use those in your next pot of stock. Try to buy a head of celery that has healthy outer stalks (not too woody) and absolutely save those celery leaves for garnish! Lastly, although you may be tempted to use already pitted olives, the fresh Castevetrano olives are key here. Just whack them on the side with a large knife or meat mallet and they are then super easy to pit. And having that ‘torn’ look is trendy. 😊

Sicilian Celery, Fennel, and Olive Salad | OurItalianTable.com

Give this salad a go – you won’t be disappointed and you will be a bit healthier as a result. 😊 As always, let us know if you do make it. We also love to hear how you get creative with our recipes!

Alla prossima!

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Sicilian Celery, Fennel, and Olive Salad | OurItalianTable.com

Sicilian Celery, Fennel and Olive Salad


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Description

This delightful celery, fennel, and olive salad uses the classic sweet and sour flavors of Sicily to elevate the humble stalk of celery!


Ingredients

Scale
  • I head of celery (about 10-12 stalks), leaves reserved
  • 1 small head of fennel
  • About 1 cup Castelvetrano olives
  • About ½ cup parsley, chopped
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 1 small lemon, organic if possible
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Small wedge of Pecorino cheese, to shave (optional)
  • ½ cup pistachios, roughly chopped
  • Flaky sea salt

Instructions

  1. Cut the celery stalks into thin diagonal pieces, about ¼ of an inch thick. If there are any woody bits on the end, remove and save them in the freezer to throw into the stockpot. Place in a large bowl.
  2. Cut the head of fennel in half and remove the core. If you have one, use a mandoline (as it makes the job much easier!) or a knife, thinly slice the head of fennel. Add to the celery.
  3. Remove the pit from the olives by smashing each olive on a cutting board with a side of a large knife. Add the olive meat to the bowl.
  4. Add the parsley and raisins. Stir everything to combine.
  5. In a small bowl, zest and juice the lemon. Add in the olive oil and stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Pour the dressing over the celery salad and toss everything together to combine. Taste and adjust as needed. Transfer the celery salad to a serving bowl.
  6. Shave some Pecorino cheese (if using) over the salad and toss. Top with the chopped pistachios and reserved celery leaves. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and serve!

Join the Conversation

  1. Ambermoggie says:

    Fabulous, thank you so much. I will sub the olives as I don’t eat them (yet love olive oil )

    1. Michele Author says:

      Grazie for commenting!! Michele

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