We tend to overlook celery much too often. Oh sure, we eat celery stick with Buffalo wings and on veggie trays with dips. But they don’t really let celery shine, do they? In this salad, celery has the starring roll. This is delicious for a dinner party and is best made several hours before serving. Trust me when I tell you, your guests will want more!This goes together in minutes. Really. Save the outer ribs of celery for your veggies trays and to serve with Buffalo wings. But those pale center ribs, with the leaves, the “heart”, are what you want for this. If you don’t have enough, then use the ribs closest to the heart. And use those leaves, too. For the dates, I purchase them already diced. No need to use those precious, Medjool dates in this case. Save those to have with good cheese or to stuff. And use your best olive oil, please. I use my lovely Basilippo® in El Viso del Alcor, near Seville, Spain. You can purchase it on-line here. It’s my favorite, but use whatever is your favorite. It isn’t all about me, though I really think it should be!!!
This salad is simplicity itself. Everything but the toasted (and you really MUST toast them!) almonds go into a bowl; toss and cover. Then into the fridge for a little rest. This is where the magic happens. The dates will soften, from the celery “juice” and the lemon and olive oil permeate everything with their perfume. When you’re ready to serve, add the toasted almonds (I prefer slivered), toss ad plate. If you wish, you may scatter some fresh mozzarella “pearls” over each portion. So, what did I tell you? Simple, right?
I’m toying with the idea of bleu cheese bits or shavings of parmesan, but I haven’t tried those yet. I think this will be a perfect potluck or summer BBQ salad.
Celery, Date and Almond Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
- 3 cups finely diced celery heart, including the leaves
- 1/2-3/4 cup diced pitted dates (see NOTE)
- Grated zest 1 large lemon (2 teaspoons)
- Juice of lemon (2-3 tablespoons)
- 3 tablespoons excellent flavored olive oil
- Kosher salt (about 1/4 teaspoon)
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- For service:
- 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
- Fresh mozzarella “pearls” or perline (optional)
Combine the celery heart, dates, lemon zest and juice and olive oil in a bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper to taste. Gently toss to combine the ingredients thoroughly. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
When ready to serve, toss the mixture to combine. Taste and adjust the acid or sweetness (I found it was perfect for my taste buds). Toss in the almonds and toss. Place on plates and serve immediately.
NOTE: You may substitute dried cranberries for all or part of the dates. You may have to add a bit of honey, as the cranberries aren’t as sweet as the dates. The celery hearts are best for this salad, and I like to use as many leaves as possible. But, if you don’t have enough, then use the ribs closest to the heart and thinly slices them. You may add some a few fresh mozzarella “pearls” or perline to each serving. They offer a soft, creamy texture, but not much flavor. You may omit them. This is best served cold, but it makes a delicious picnic salad.
Celery, Date and Almond Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2021. All rights reserved.