Make Ahead

Celery and Lentil Salad with Tossed Salsa Verde

February  4, 2019
13 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This is a zippy, hearty salad that will forever open your mind to celery's deliciousness and versatility. Make it for a simple weeknight dinner, tote it to a picnic or potluck, or serve it at your next soirée. Once assembled, it can easily hang out at room temperature for a few hours—just give it a another toss before digging in. And while I like its contrasting textures best on day one, it’s also good the next day, after the lentils have soaked up the spunky vinaigrette and the celery has relaxed its crunch. It’s like getting two very good salads for the price of one.

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe is featured in the story, The Crunchy, Tangy Salad That Made Me Fall in Love With Celery, sponsored by FreshDirect. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For the lemon-anchovy vinaigrette:
  • 3 anchovies
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 teaspoon capers, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large lemon, finely grated zest and 3 tablespoons juice
  • 2 pinches kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • For the salad:
  • 3/4 cup green lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons raisins
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 pinches kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 5 celery stalks, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal (about 3 cups in total)
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups celery leaves, Italian parsley leaves, and/or baby arugula
  • 1/3 cup sliced toasted almonds
  • 2 ounces pecorino romano or parmesan, shaved with a vegetable peeler
  1. Place lentils and bay leaf in a saucepan and cover by several inches of water. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender but still firm, about 20 minutes (or according to package directions). Add additional water, if needed, to keep the lentils covered.
  2. Meanwhile, to make the vinaigrette: Mince and smash the anchovies into a paste with the side of your knife. In a small bowl or jar with a tight fitting lid, combine the anchovies, shallots, capers, lemon zest and juice, and a few pinches of salt. Let macerate for about 5 minutes, then add the olive oil, whisking (or shaking) to emulsify. Taste and adjust the acid and seasoning.
  3. When lentils are done, drain well in a colander, discarding the bay leaf. Return the lentils to the pan. Immediately fold in 2 to 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and the raisins. Let cool for about 5 to 10 minutes, then taste and adjust seasoning.
  4. In a serving bowl, toss the celery and celery leaves (and/or the parsley and arugula) with 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette and a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes, then add the lentils, almonds, and pecorino. Taste again, adding more vinaigrette, lemon juice, or salt, as needed. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Elizabeth Mirzaei
    Elizabeth Mirzaei
  • Soc Page
    Soc Page
  • Stephanie B.
    Stephanie B.
  • Rhonda35
  • EmilyC

Recipe by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.

13 Reviews

Cherny19 August 10, 2021
I made a few changes and loved the result. First, cooked 1 cup of lentils with the bay leaf and added chopped onion and olive oil, just barely covered with water, for more flavor. Added only a little water during cooking so at the end all the water was evaporated. Added 1 minced garlic clove and 1 T capers to the vinaigrette. When lentils were cooked, added 3 T of the vinaigrette and 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes. Skipped the raisins altogether. Made sure to include lots of arugula. It was terrific, although next time I'll increase the lentils to 2 cups and add more celery so it's enough for 4 dinner servings.
Elizabeth M. May 30, 2020
I feel this recipe is lacking something that I can’t put my finger on- perhaps the amount of anchovies and capers the recipe called for just wasn’t enough? It came together easily and tastes okay, but lacks flavor.
EmilyC May 30, 2020
Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for trying this! In my experience making this salad, I usually have to tinker with the salt and lemon juice until the flavors really sing. You could definitely add more anchovies and capers, but it’s usually the salt that is key! Celery and lentils both need more salt than the typical salad ingredients. Hope this helps!
LLinMpls April 19, 2020
I made this for dinner last night. During this time of limited grocery shopping, I was happy that I had everything in the house and even Mr. Meat&Potatoes loves lentil salads. I thought it was fine. When I asked M&P what he thought, he said it was okay, but lacking something, which was exactly how I felt.
Soc P. November 3, 2019
We are looking to eat less meat and this recipe worked well for us. We recently spent some time at the Hiltl in Zurich and the amazing array of vegetarian salads and entrees inspired me to look for dishes that aren't trying to be substitutes for meat. I always have celery on hand but frequently have more than we can reasonably eat. This is a keeper for us. I chopped almonds and toasted them for more texture. We used some parmesan and fontina shavings we had on hand. We have agreed to try using other dried fruits for the raisins, fennel stalks for the celery (or a mix of celery and fennel, and different cheeses.
Stephanie B. May 6, 2019
I made this after going back and forth on it in my saved recipes, gave it side-eye, frowned at it, etc., because I don't like eating celery. I get its usefulness in cooking - stocks, mirepoix and such, but I'm just not a fan of it. But this was good! I ate my celery and enjoyed it in this salad. Plus it was super fast to whip together, great weeknight meal - thanks for sharing
EmilyC May 7, 2019
Thanks for making me smile -- this is the best comment! : )
Donna H. April 25, 2019
I made this last night and it was delicious! Even if you are not a fan of capers and anchovies (I definitely am!), you will like this. I used organic green sprouted lentils, cooked according to package directions and a mixture of parsley, celery tops and arugula. I served it with room temperature salmon. I particularly liked the addition of the red pepper flakes. The only thing I did different was use dried cranberries because I didn’t have raisins - it lends itself well to different combinations. Try it!!
EmilyC April 29, 2019
So happy you liked the salad, Donna! You're so right -- it's very flexible and amenable to different combinations. I'll bet it was delicious with salmon! Thanks for your note!
Rhonda35 April 23, 2019
As expected with an EmilyC recipe, this was delicious! The salad came together quickly and had such a balanced contrast of flavors and textures. My teenager is not a fan of celery, yet made an exception for this salad - he liked it so much, he had two servings!
EmilyC April 23, 2019
Yay, your note made my day, Rhonda! I’m so glad you liked the salad, and your son, too!! Thanks for trying it and circling back!
Louise April 3, 2019
This dish is delicious! I could have been very heavy handed with the dressing it was so flavorful.
EmilyC April 3, 2019
Wonderful -- I'm so glad you tried and liked the salad, Louise! Thanks for your note!