I’m a horseradish junkie. In my last life, my boss grew it in his backyard and every summer he would bring me a jar of his own homegrown horsey – a highlight during each of my five years in the newsroom. It was so fresh and pungent, I spread it on crackers at my desk and fueled myself through whole afternoons of fluorescent listlessness.
LeRaysville Cheese makes a horseradish cheddar that I sometimes dream about when I’m stuck doing some pooh-blah thing at work. Yesterday, I was typing up some minutes, and I had a horseradish brainstorm: trout…apples…fennel…yes….and horseradish cheddar. I think I actually released endorphins just thinking about it, because I breezed through those minutes and was on a train home in no time, reaching for the cheese knife before I had even set down my bag.
The beauty of this salad is that it takes deux minutes to throw together, and it looks fancy. It’s also a miraculous balance of salty, sweet, zesty-sour and crispy, which means, well, that it’s jazz. I put on a little Lionel Hampton, in fact. Horseradish cheddar and vibes, man. It does not get any better than that.
In Philadelphia, you can find LeRaysville Horseradish Cheddar at the Greensgrow Market in Fishtown and at the Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal. It’s a pasteurized whole milk cheese made by the Amish in LeRaysville, outside of Scranton, and would you believe these folks also make Limburger? (Must investigate.)
Elsewhere, you should be able to find horseradish cheddar at the grocery. If not, just choose a medium-sharp white cheddar and add a little extra jarred horseradish.
Trout-Apple Salad with Horseradish Cheddar
½ apple, chopped
1 filet smoked trout
½ cup fresh fennel
¼ cup horseradish cheddar cheese, cubed
3 Tablespoons ranch dressing
1 teaspoon apple-cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon prepared horseradish
Whip up the dressing, then chop your salad ingredients and arrange them in two bowls. This is the sort of salad where you can be haphazard about measuring – just put in as much of each ingredient as you want, and feel free to add some purple onion. The key is to use plenty of apple so that the saltiness of the fish doesn’t take over. I cheat by using ranch dressing, but you could easily make a homemade horsey dressing using 2 parts mayo to 1 part sour cream. Serve with a glass of rosé.
Note: fresh horseradish is pretty strong -- it looses its sharpness the longer you keep it around, so taste it before you add boat-loads, eh?