Salad of Baby Arugula, Parmesan, Apples, Celery & Toasted Almonds in a Lemon Vinaigrette
A copycat recipe from a favorite local restaurant.
This spectacular combination and presentation is not my own. It’s a dish I adore from a local restaurant in Westport, CT called Romanacci. After just one bite, I knew I had to recreate it at home. The juxtaposition of flavors and textures is what makes it so perfectly delicious. The julienned celery and apples provide crunch to the peppery arugula base while balancing flavor. Enter the salty Parmesan, toasted almonds, and lemon vinaigrette for a truly winning combination. Serve the salad as-is for a first course, or with fish or poultry as a main course. Crunchy and tart, a little sweet, perfectly crispy and savory, this salad is one you'll crave and make on repeat.
Equipment: cutting board; chef's knife; dry and wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; blender; peeler; small and large mixing bowl; tongs
half a shallot, minced
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey (optional)
½ cup olive oil kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tart apple, such as Mutsu or Granny Smith 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 large celery stalk, trimmed
1, 5-ounce clamshell baby arugula
¼ cup toasted sliced almonds
¼ cup shaved Parmesan kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 1. In a blender, combine the shallots, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and optional honey. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream until thoroughly blended, about 1 minute. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Set aside.
2. Leaving the skin on, slice the apple into thin slices, then slice those slices into juliennes. Add to a small bowl and sprinkle with a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice. Set aside.
"Julienned celery is transformative. It mellows sweetness and amplifies texture, making its presence essential without overpowering. Try it. You’ll like it…even if you don’t actually like celery."
3. Cut the celery stalk into three or four pieces, each about 2½ inches long. Slice each of those pieces into slices as with the apple, then cut those slices into juliennes. Add to the bowl with the acidulated apples.
ILOC tip: use a peeler to shave Parmesan for perfectly imperfect thin curls of cheese, the ideal salty accent.
4. In a large mixing bowl, add the julienned apples and celery. Stir in the vinaigrette and mix well to coat. Toss with the arugula, then add the toasted almonds and Parmesan. Mix well to combine. Taste and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.
Makes two main course servings or four appetizer/side salad portions.