I know what you’re probably thinking now. Why does Ally call this recipe calypso’s cave celery cuke olive salad? I suppose the reason is that I stumbled upon some intriguing information when researching celery. Now, food to me is a way to relate to history, and, in this case, literature.
Do you remember Homer’s Odyssey. Yep, one of the two epic poems attributed to Homer way back when. Scholars believe it was composed sometime in 8 B.C. Odysseus, the Greek hero, had a long journey back home. And, it was quite a feat to even begin the journey because he was captured and held captive by the seductive and beautiful nymph Calypso, who was addicted to love for him. She had him imprisoned on her island, Ogvgia.
Now back to this calypso’s cave celery cuke olive salad. Just stick with me. It’s going to make sense why I named it this. So, Odysseus gets the help of Zeus who sends Hermes to rescue him from Calypso. Homer describes what Hermes sees when he arrives at Calypso:
“He (Hermes) found her (Calypso) at home. There was a large fire burning on the hearth. One could smell from afar the fragrant odor of burning cedar and sandal wood. As for herself, Calypso was busy at her loom, shooting her golden shuttle through the warp and singing beautifully. Round her cave was a thick wood of alder, poplar, and sweet smelling cypress trees. Therein were all kinds of great birds which had built their nests – owls, hawks, and chattering sea gulls whose business is in the waters. A vine loaded with grapes was trained and grew luxuriantly about the mouth of the cave. There were also four running rills of water in channels cut pretty close together. They were turned hither and thither to irrigate the beds of violets and luscious herbage, including wild celery over which they flowed. Even a god could not help being charmed with such a lovely spot. So, Hermes stood motionless and looked at it. When he had admired it sufficiently, he went inside the cave.”
Well, Hermes finally persuades Calypso to let Odysses build a ship and leave. But, his troubles and arduous adventures weren’t over. Actually, it took him ten years to return to Ithaca after the ten-year Trojan War. And, there’s a happy ending.
As you see, the very first mention of ‘celery’ is believed to be by Homer in 8 B.C. Pretty cool, I think. And, this salad is kind of like Odysseus’s journey. It’s full of unexpected tastes, flavors, textures, and in the end there is a happy ending for your palate!
PS: There’s one ingredient that’s ‘optional’…you decide to put it in or leave it out! xoxo ~ally
- ¼ cup + 3 Tbl. olive oil, divided
- 1 can (15.5 oz.) garbanzo beans, drained
- 3 tsp. harissa, dry
- 2 ½ cups mini cucumbers, sliced
- 2 ½ cups celery, sliced
- 1 cup carrots, sliced in thin rounds (I used multi-colored heirloom carrots for vibrancy.)
- ½ cup red onions, sliced in about 2” thin pieces
- ½ cup green olives, with pimentos, sliced
- ½ cup Dole Sunshine dates, diced
- 3 green onions, with greens, sliced
- 1/4 cup radishes, sliced thinly (optional)
- 3 Tbl. fresh lemon thyme leaves
- ½ cup fresh basil, packed, chopped
- 1 ½ tsp. sea salt
- 1 ½ tsp. coarse ground pepper
- 2 medium lemons, juice
- In a large cast iron skillet over medium heat, put the one-fourth cup oil, beans and harissa. Blend and cook about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and cover.
- In a large mixing salad bowl, combine the cucumbers, celery, carrots, onions, radishes, olives, dates, green onions thyme and basil. Toss and blend.
- Add the garbanzo beans and use a rubber spatula to scrape out all the oil and spice mixture.
- Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and lemon juice. Toss and blend. Refrigerate about an hour before serving.
This salad keeps well for a couple of days.
It's becomes a 'new' salad with chopped grilled chicken!
For extra boosts of juicy fruitiness, try adding another one of Dole Sunshine product like slivers of pineapple, diced peaches, or blueberries. Jut this one small simple change can create a new explosion of flavors for you! OR, serve small bowls of these delicious fruits alongside the salad and offer as extra 'toppings'! Oh, so unusual!