What a weekend. On Friday, I zoomed six hours southwest to Woodward, Oklahoma, for my grandmother Virginia’s 85th birthday party. On Saturday, I zoomed six hours back to pick up Cookie before the boarder closed, on a different route that was supposed to save me, like, ten minutes. I ended up on a construction detour over red dirt roads and got pulled over for speeding by a policeman in a pick-up truck. (Look, Mom, no ticket!)
On Sunday, I hosted the first stop in Ali’s bachelorette party, which concluded with ten girls belting Alanis Morissette lyrics in a private karaoke room. And yesterday, we celebrated Jordan’s soon-to-be-here baby with a decidedly chill baby shower. Today, I’m resisting the urge to pour myself a third cup of coffee.
Surely I’m not the only person who over-indulged this weekend, right? Let’s reset with a simple, inexpensive, and addictive celery salad. I included chopped celery in two salads in my cookbook, but this is my first celery-centric salad. It’s a crisp, refreshing and totally underrated salad ingredient.
I found the recipe in a new cookbook called Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables by chef Joshua McFadden and Martha Holmberg. Kat Sacks from Epicurious sent the book to me so I could participate in this month’s edition of #EpiCookbookClub—each month, Epicurious is selecting a cookbook to cook from, and you can participate by tagging your food photos #EpicCookbookClub on Instagram and Facebook. I love it.
I’m quite smitten with Six Seasons. It’s a gorgeous seasonal cookbook that highlights a wide variety of produce and offers inventive recipes for each type. I’ve bookmarked a ton of recipes to try and picked this one to try first, since McFadden said it’s one of his favorite dishes.
I’m learning a lot from his produce introductions. For example, in the celery intro, I learned that celery is super-thirsty and needs a lot of attention from growers, which is why you don’t find it often at farmers’ markets. It gets tough and stringy when it’s not consistently and adequately watered. Have you seen heirloom celery varieties in purple or magenta yet? I’m keeping an eye out for them now.
Before I go, some updates on Love Real Food:
- Tessa made my Lemony Almond-Blueberry Cake
- Abby made my Maple Bourbon Candied Pecans
- Lindsey made my Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Sarah made my Fresh Greek Nachos with Herbed Tahini Sauce
- Heather made my Tahini Kale Caesar Salad (and her daughters Pia and Coco made my Banana Pecan Shakes ♥)
- Thank you so much for the kind reviews—Love Real Food has nearly 60 five-star reviews on Amazon!
Celery Salad with Dates, Almonds and Parmesan
- Prep Time: 25 mins
- Cook Time: 5 mins
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings
- Category: Salad
- Method: By hand
- Cuisine: American
This celery salad recipe will surprise you! Crisp celery, toasted almonds, dates and Parmesan combine to create an irresistibly fresh salad. Prepare the celery and place it in the ice bath (step 1) before you start working on the remaining ingredients. Recipe yields 4 side salad portions.
- 8 long celery stalks, leaves separated and reserved, tough fibers peeled off with a vegetable peeler, sliced on an angle into ¼-inch thick pieces
- ½ cup raw almonds
- 4 Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 1 ½ lemons)
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (I used Parmesan*), shaved into shards with a vegetable peeler (to yield about ⅓ cup)
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Place the celery in a bowl of ice water and soak for about 20 minutes to heighten the crispness. Drain the celery and pat it dry with a tea towel, then pile the celery into a medium serving bowl.
- To toast the almonds, warm them in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until fragrant and toasted, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and chop with a chef’s knife.
- To the bowl of drained celery, add the celery leaves, chopped almonds, dates, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. Season generously with salt (I started with ¼ teaspoon) and pepper, and toss to combine. Add the cheese and olive oil and toss gently. Taste and add more salt, pepper and/or red pepper flakes until you reach an irresistible balance of salty, spicy, tart and sweet.
- Serve at room temperature or chilled. This salad keeps well, covered and chilled, for about 3 days (before serving, toss again and pour off some of the excess liquid).
Recipe minimally adapted from Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden and Martha Holmberg.
*Parmesan note: Most Parmesans are not technically vegetarian (they contain animal rennet), but Whole Foods 365 and BelGioioso brands offer vegetarian Parmesans.
Change it up: I haven’t tried, but I imagine dried cherries, cranberries or chopped apricots would be nice instead of the dates. I bet walnuts would be good in place of the almonds, too.
Make it nut free: Try substituting freshly toasted sunflower seeds in place of the almonds.
Make it dairy free/vegan: The Parmesan rounds out the salad’s flavor, but it’s also nice without the cheese. You might finish the salad with some flaky sea salt (Maldon brand) instead.