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Too hot to cook indoors! Finally the weather is fantastic! Try this refreshing salad and addictive salad dressing from Aarti Sequeira, winner Season 6 of The Next Food Network Star.

I truly don’t know why it is called an Ugly Duckling Salad.  The salad is refreshing and crisp. The salad dressing, I can eat by the spoonful; the dressing is that good and I enjoy any leftover dressing!  Easy to make and wonderful to eat, this is a salad you will enjoy!

The Ugly Duckling Salad

Recipe courtesy Aarti Sequeira, 2010

Prep Time: 30 min

Level: Easy

Serves: 4



  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachio nuts, plus more for garnish
  • 1 to 2 cloves, garlic, peeled and roughly chopped (use 2 only if you really like garlic!)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, (recommended: Sriracha), optional
  • About 1/2 cup hot water
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • Splash good extra-virgin olive oil, for dressing



  • 1 bag baby spinach
  • 1 Fuji apple, cored and sliced
  • 1 celeriac bulb, peeled and grated (do this right before serving so it doesn’t oxidize and turn brown)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Warm a small skillet over medium heat. Add pistachios, shaking the skillet frequently so that nuts don’t burn. Toast until the pistachios turn a little brown. They should smell delicious too. Quickly remove the pan from the heat and transfer the nuts to a bowl; otherwise they’ll keep cooking and burn.

Add the pistachios to a blender along with the garlic, half of the lemon juice, the hot sauce, if using, hot water, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and the canola oil. Blend until smooth. If it doesn’t form a paste, add more water and more oil and blend until smooth. The consistency should be like a thin hummus; don’t worry if you feel like you’re adding a lot of oil. Taste and add a little extra-virgin olive oil and more lemon juice if you want more zing, which I recommend. It cuts the oils from the pistachios. Set aside once you’re happy with it.

Wash the spinach and dry thoroughly, so the leaves can be coated with the dressing.

Toss the spinach, apple, and celeriac in a large serving bowl and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour 1/2 of the dressing over the salad and toss again. If you prefer more dressing, add it all, which I recommend. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then garnish with pistachios and serve.


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