Making the Méro cake has inspired me to cook more with apples, so last week I bought a few from the grocery store, and I decided to use them in panini. I remembered a recipe for an apple and celeriac salad my mom used to make when I was little, and I thought it would be great if I used it in my panino. On paper, apples and celeriac sounds like an odd combination for a panino, but I assure you it works. The apples make the panino light and refreshing, while the celeriac provides a touch of assertiveness – and lots of healthy fiber. My mother used to make this salad during the winter, when produce was hard to find, and we lived off our pantry as much as possible. Back then, apples and celeriac were among the very few fruits and veggies one could buy from the local market during the winter, and my mother – resourceful as usual – came up with the idea of making a “winter salad” out of these two ingredients. She used mayo to “bind” them together. However, as you probably have noticed by now, I am no fan of mayo, which I find a bit too heavy for my liking. Instead, I use sour cream, which gives the salad a wholesome taste.
These are the quantities necessary to make about 4 or 5 panini, so use less if you only want to make one panino, or if you don’t plan on storing the leftover salad in the fridge. (I usually make a big batch and store it in the fridge for a couple of days.) I used a Braeburn apple, which is my favorite apple variety, but you can use any variety you like as long as the apple is not overly sweet. Replace the ham with sauteed mushrooms if you’re a vegetarian.
1 medium apple, finely shredded
1 cup celeriac, finely shredded
2 cups sour cream
1/4 lb smoked ham
2 slices red onion, separated into rings
1/4 French bread
1 small handful fresh parsley
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Mix the shredded apple and celeriac with the sour cream. Chop the fresh parsley and add it to the mix. Add salt and pepper, and taste the salad to make sure it is well seasoned. Add extra salt and pepper, if needed.
Take out the center of the bread to make room for the salad. Spread the salad on both sides of the bread using a spoon. Spread the onions evenly on top of the salad and put the ham (or sauteed mushrooms, if you’re making a vegetarian panino) in the middle. Grill the panino for 1-2 minutes, or until the bread is golden-brown. Sprinkle chopped fresh parsley on top and serve with extra salad on the side.
The first time I tasted this panino I could not believe how light it was. As I told one of my friends, it was as if I was eating a cloud! This was definitely due to the apple, whose texture, light as a feather, worked well in contrast with the crunchiness of the red onion and of the French bread. The chopped parsley added freshness and was necessary to counteract the slight unidimensionality of the celeriac.
The ingredients worked well together, and I was very pleased with the result. I will be making this panino again soon. 🙂