Adapted from Estela by Ignacio Mattos with Gabe Ulla
For optimal cheese shavings, Ignacio Mattos insists on a Microplane chocolate shaver. A cheat, if you do not own one of these, is to put the cheese in the freezer for an hour or two. Then shave with a Y-peeler, regular vegetable peeler, or paring knife, or grate with the large holes of a box grater. None are perfect replicas. But they are close. If you forget to freeze the cheese, no problem. The pieces will be crumbly. Far from the end of the world.
- MAKE THE PICKLED CHILES: Rinse the chiles and place them in a medium heatproof container. Combine the white vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour over the chiles and let cool. Refrigerate. They’ll keep for at least three months.
- MAKE THE SALAD: If you think about it, put the hunk of cheese in the freezer for at least an hour before you’re going to serve the salad.
- Add the raisins and vinegar to a small bowl and macerate for at least 15 minutes.
- Rinse the celery well, including the leaves if they’re intact. Cut the stalks into ¼-inch slices to make 2 cups of sliced celery. Submerge the celery in a bowl filled with ice and water for 5 minutes. This helps the celery slices perk up and go crisp. Strain the celery and pat dry.
- Drizzle the pickled chile liquid and olive oil onto a large serving plate.
- Add the celery slices to a large bowl and toss with ½ teaspoon salt. Really get in there so the salt coats the celery and helps it open up for the dressing. Add the mint, celery leaves, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Strain the raisin-soaking vinegar into the bowl with the celery. Massage the dressing into the celery.
- Scatter the raisins and pistachio pieces over the pickling liquid and oil. Scatter the celery on top of the raisins and pistachio pieces. If there is dressing left in the bowl, spoon it over the celery. If any spots on the plate look dry, add a splash or two of oil.
- Using a Microplane shaver or other shaving or grating tool, shave the cheese over the salad. You want enough cheese to cover but not overwhelm the salad.
Scott Hocker is a writer, editor, recipe developer, cookbook author, and content and editorial consultant. He has worked in magazines, kitchens, newsletters, restaurants and a bunch of other environments he can’t remember right now. He has also been the editor in chief of both liquor.com and Tasting Table.