For the celery salad:
- 1 head of celery, separated into stalks and washed (about 12 stalks)
- Salt and pepper
- 5 - 6 ounces Gorgonzola Dolce cheese, cut into about 24 small pieces or cubes
- 12 – 14 Medjool dates, pitted and cut in bite sized pieces
- Reserved celery leaves
- 1/2 cup walnut shavings, or finely chopped California walnuts*
For the creamy white balsamic vinaigrette:
- 1 teaspoon orange marmalade
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- Salt and pepper
*Note: A micro plane grater is useful for producing walnut shavings, as is a rotary grater with a slicing blade. Otherwise, use finely chopped walnuts.
- Remove and set aside about 1/2 cup, more or less, of celery leaves from the tops of the stalks. To prepare the celery salad, use a vegetable peeler to peel the rounded side of the larger, outside stalks to remove any stringy fibers. Slice the celery very thinly and put it in a large bowl (you will have 5 – 6 cups of sliced celery). Season with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and toss to combine. Refrigerate the celery until you are not assembling the salad right away. In the meantime, prepare the Vinaigrette.
- To prepare the vinaigrette, place the marmalade and mustard in a bowl and mash them together with the back of a spoon. Whisk in the vinegar. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to form a smooth emulsion. In a separate bowl, whip the cream until it stands in soft peaks. Add the vinegar mixture to the cream and fold together until blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- To assemble the salad, drain and discard any accumulated juices from the celery. Add the dressing and stir to coat the celery evenly. Divide among six salad plates. Garnish each plate with about four pieces of cheese, several pieces of date and a few celery leaves. Sprinkle shaved or finely chopped walnuts over each salad.