Celery Citrus Salad || Hitchhiking to Heaven

C is for Celery Citrus Salad

We are having warm spring temps here. It’s almost 80 degrees! That pleases me for many reasons, mostly having to do with the garden and a long list of dirt-digging tasks. But it’s also a perfect day to have this Celery Citrus Salad for lunch. Doesn’t it look like spring?

Last week I wrote about a successful Cauliflower Pie that I made, but this salad is the “official” entry for my personal veggie challenge, in which I am working my way through the vegetable alphabet and posting a related recipe on the last day of every month. (So far: A is for Artichoke and B is for Bok Choy.)

Last year, celery grew very well for me in a half-wine barrel.  Right now, my celery plants are babies — about 3″ tall — but I’ll be glad to have something new to do with that celery when it’s ready. (When I got caught with too much last year, I enjoyed making ultra-simple Summertime Celery Water, which is a refreshing, mineral-rich drink for hot days.) If you have a favorite way to use celery — something that takes it beyond its unfair reputation for being nothing but boring diet food — would you share in the comments?

The original recipe for this salad came from the free, take-away magazine published by Whole Foods. I like to pick up a copy when I shop there because I often find good, budget-friendly recipes in it. (This, despite the universal understanding that Whole Foods is not the most budget-friendly place to shop. Their large assortment of clear, practical recipes makes the Whole Foods shopping experience more sane.) Whole Foods has a well developed recipe forum on its website, too.

I did make some changes to the original recipe. I cut the amount of celery called for to reflect the amount I had. I replaced regular balsamic vinegar with golden, to keep the color bright. I added flowering miner’s lettuce from our yard and a handful of chopped pecans. This is one of the best things about salads; they invite play.

If I’d had time, I would have followed Kaela’s lead and made honey roasted nuts to top my salad. (She posted those just this morning and I wasn’t quite fast enough to get my head around them, but I will make them sometime soon.) Still, I’m not complaining about the pecans. They added great flavor and enough substance to make the salad act more like a meal.

Celery Citrus Salad

5 tangerines or mandarin oranges (I used Clementines)
1/4 cup feta cheese
2 tablespoons golden balsamic vinegar
1 cup roughly chopped celery leaves
2 cups sliced celery
4 cups (approximately 1/4 pound) mixed salad greens
1/2 cup chopped pecans
cracked black pepper

Squeeze the juice from one of the fruits into a large bowl. Add the vinegar and cheese and mix well with a fork, mashing the cheese as you go. Peel the remaining fruit and separate into segments, removing any stringy bits before adding the segments to the bowl. Add celery leaves, sliced celery, and salad greens, and toss well. Top with chopped pecans and add cracked black pepper to taste.

Happy spring!

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