I often think of spring when I think of celery. But with the cooking season upon us (lots of holidays coming up), we’re all likely using celery as a base for soups, stews and other colder weather dishes. What do you do with the celery leaves and those spring green innards? Don’t just save them for making stock. They are delicious in their own right. Make a salad!
Hopefully your grocery store or farmer’s market doesn’t chop off the leaves of your celery bunches. If they do, there are often baby leaves and tender yellow-green stalks inside. Don’t discard them. They are less bitter than their counter parts.
For the best flavor balance, use both the green leaves (bitter) and the yellow-green ones (almost sweet). Any bitterness will be rounded out with the other ingredients, especially the dressing. If you can only find trimmed celery without leaves, just finely chop the celery and use that. It will still be delicious.
There are very few ingredients in this salad so try to use the highest quality. That said, the ingredients I recommend below are swappable. For example, I use apples. But if you prefer, use pears or another fall/winter fruit. I use walnuts. But if you prefer, use another nut. I use Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese. But if you prefer, use what you like or already have. The ingredients I’ve used complement each other nicely. So, if you swap out ingredients, think about the new flavor profile you are creating and imagine if they will taste good together.
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Crunchy Fall Celery Salad
- 1 large celery bunch, ideally with leaves intact (tip: save leaves from another bunch to use for this salad, if possible)
- Shavings of Grana Padano, Parmesan, or Pecorino cheese (see head note for alternatives). As much as you like
- 1 large, or 2 small apples (e.g., gala, fuji, etc.)
- 1 cup walnuts, toasted (see head note for alternatives)
- 1 recipe homemade vinaigrette (see below)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea (not table) salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Make vinaigrette (combine all vinaigrette ingredients and whisk to combine. Yes, it’s that easy! Why buy salad dressing ever again?!)
- Separate and wash each celery stalk and the leaves. Set aside the larger, mature stalks for another use. Finely dice the smaller stalks and place them in a small mixing bowl. Set the leaves aside
- Roughly chop the walnuts
- In a sauté pan over medium-low heat, toast the walnuts for 5-7 minutes. Toss them frequently for even heating. When you can smell them in the air, they are done. Remove them from the pan to stop the cooking
- Dice the apple(s) into small, bite-sized pieces, minus the core. Place the diced apple in the mixing bowl with the diced celery. Pour 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette over the apples and celery and mix well. The acid in the vinaigrette will prevent the apple from browning
- Using a vegetable peeler, make shavings of the cheese. As much as you like… 🙂
- In another mixing bowl, drizzle vinaigrette over the celery leaves and toss
- Time to assemble. It’s all about the layering. On a platter, lay a base of the celery leaves. On top of the leaves, make a layer of the diced celery and apples. On top of that, evenly spread out the walnuts followed by shards of the cheese. Isn’t she lovely?