Portland Innovator Chef Joshua McFadden, Ava Gene’s Restaurant
Chef McFadden says “This cucumber, celery, blueberry and pistachio salad hits every flavor note — sweet, sour, salty, bitter…and it’s all kinds of crunchy. The more herbs you pack in there, the better. Mint, parsley, basil, and celery are just the beginning — you can add sorrel, every kind of basil you can find, chives, even some cooked grains or couscous. Serve this with grilled lamb, friends, the great outdoors, and cold pink wine.”
- 1-1/2 pounds cucumber
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 4 medium celery stalks, with their leaves if possible
- 1 garlic clove
- 3/4 cup dried blueberries
- 1/4 cup slightly sweet red-wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup lightly roasted pistachios, chopped
- 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves
- 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves ½
- 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh celery leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon dried chile flakes
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Peel cucumbers, then split them lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a spoon. Cut each in half at an angle into ½-inch slices. In a medium bowl, mix cucumbers and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt together. Set aside for 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, cut the celery at an angle into ½-inch slices and soak in ice water for 10 minutes. Drain, pat dry, and pile into a serving bowl.
- Smash the garlic clove and peel. In a small bowl, combine blueberries, garlic and vinegar. Set aside for 10 minutes.
- Pat cucumbers dry and add to the celery, along with the pistachios, mint, parsley, basil, and celery leaves. Remove garlic from the blueberry mixture. Add blueberries and vinegar to the salad along with chile flakes and olive oil. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Toss ingredients adding more salt, vinegar and olive oil if desired. Serve immediately.
Number of servings (yield): 4