Sweet, Salty, Crunchy, Zingy Apple and Celery Salad

January 10, 2011
3 Ratings
Photo by Linda Xiao
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This is one of those recipes that falls out of nowhere and into your brain. I assume it was inspired by something, but I have no idea what, it just appeared. I know apple and celery salads are a thing, but this one is quite different from your standard version. It mixes up a variety of crunchy, salty, and sweet ingredients for a wonderfully refreshing salad that still feels hearty enough for winter. My husband, who can always be counted on to come up with the most pithy/amusing things to say about what I cook, started eating it and exclaimed (with gusto), "oh my gosh! This salad is changing my life one bite at a time!" So there you go, it's a life changing salad. ;) - fiveandspice —fiveandspice

Test Kitchen Notes

It’s hard to imagine a more cheerful salad than this in the dead of winter, or any time really, for that matter. The title of this recipe pretty well describes it, but doesn’t capture the brilliance of the combination of ingredients. The mint, lemon juice, capers and ricotta salata (which was the only ingredient I don’t regularly have on hand, but well worth the effort to find), provide the perfect foil to the sweet-tart apple and raisins. Juicy and fresh tasting, with wonderful bright, bold flavors, this salad is one I plan to make again, often. ;o) —AntoniaJames

What You'll Need
  • 2 cups celery, thinly sliced (on a bit of a diagonal)
  • 1 sweet-tart apple, such as Braeburn or Pink Lady, cored and cut into smallish chunks
  • 2 tablespoons (heaping) golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint
  • 3 tablespoons (generous Tbs.) crumbled ricotta salata (or other fresh, salty cheese)
  1. If the raisins are dry, soak them for 10 minutes in a bit of apple juice or water. Then drain them.
  2. Combine the celery, apple, raisins, and capers in a medium-large bowl. Drizzle with the lemon juice and olive oil and toss well to coat.
  3. Throw in the sliced mint and the crumbled ricotta salata and toss again until everything is a lovely jumble. Serve! This salad also just grows better as it sits a little while and the flavors hang out and get to know each other a bit better (within reason, I'm talking a couple hours to a day here, more than that and the celery does start to lose its crunch).

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • sevenfaces
  • Linda
  • chez_mere
  • abbyarnold
  • Crispy

37 Reviews

sevenfaces June 21, 2023
Delicious! Used Parmesan as that’s all I had and it worked really well. Pink lady was the perfect apple. Didn’t have quite enough mint in the garden so topped up with fresh parsley for a fresh green taste. My new go-to celery salad!
Rebecca March 2, 2018
We tried this salad for our lemon themed dinner and it was amazing!! Letting the flavors blend together for an hour really enhanced the salad. (We found this out when we served up seconds at the end of the meal).
Linda February 16, 2018
Love this salad. Have made it several times. Winter and summer. Peeled the celery and salted it first. Have switched out and added pear and dates to the mix.
chez_mere October 24, 2017
Great winter salad! I used real deal parmesan for my 'salty, crumbly cheese' and swapped fennel fronds for the mint - purely because that's what I had in the fridge - and it worked great!
abbyarnold April 11, 2017
Oh my gosh, this is the perfect recipe! I got celery in my CSA box two weeks in a row. That is a lot of celery for one person, and celery is usually a small addition to a recipe, not the centerpiece. This week I got mint too. I have some feta, which should be a good sub for the ricotta salata. THANK YOU.
Crispy December 22, 2016
I have made this for Thanksgiving and again the following week. It was delicious and well received both times.
Shrinkrap December 13, 2015
I made a test version of this with grated 6 month manchego and it was good. I'm planning on making this for a pot luck, and I'm wondering how long it will hold, and about a few substitutions. I'm thinking cotija, instead of ricotta salata, which I have not been able to find, not even at Dean and DeLuca in Napa. Folks don't even seem to know what I' talking about! I'miss also wondering about grapes instead of raisins, like they use in a Waldorf. Wondering about a heavier, sweeter "dressing", maybe something with honey and mustard.
Hannah M. April 19, 2015
Made this tonight and added rocket to bulk it out a bit. Delicious!
MariahK December 1, 2013
I love this salad so much! It's my new favorite!
Erin B. August 15, 2013
Wonderful salad fiveandspice, so crisp and healthy. Thank you for posting!
fiveandspice August 16, 2013
I'm so glad you liked it so much!
LauriDor May 20, 2013
This looks so great. I have the ingredients on hand and will make it for lunch today. Thanks!
fiveandspice May 20, 2013
Hope you enjoy it!
Joanne L. March 10, 2013
I didn't have soft cheese on hand so I used some greek yoghurt I had around, and made up for the saltiness with some anchovied breadcrumbs* I had made a couple of days ago. It works too!

* Buy good anchovies preserved in olive oil. Ground a few of them into a paste in a pestle and mortar along with with breadcrumbs. Pan-fry in some olive oil. Make a big batch and keep it for sprinkling along anything that needs an oomph!
fiveandspice March 10, 2013
Sounds awesome!
lacerise October 31, 2012
This was a neighborhood celery, Annmarie's mint, Michael's meyer lemons, local goat feta. It was delicious for dinner last night and I brought the leftovers to work for snack time. Thanks for coming up with this winning combo of flavors.
lacerise October 31, 2012
This came together with some neighborhood effort....good organic celery, Annmarie's mint, Michael's Meyer lemons, and some local goat feta. It was delicious and I've brought the leftovers to work today for a snack. Thank you for thinking up this combo.
fiveandspice October 31, 2012
Awesome!!! Glad you guys liked. I love a good neighborhood effort!
Galapagos October 28, 2012
With crisp, not flabby or watery farmer's market celery, the salad kept its crunch for more than the day suggested as optimal. I found the flavors blended even better on day two. I used French feta whose softness I prefer as a better foil to the celery & apple crunch than I would ricotta salata. Different and delicious. I'll make it again.
fiveandspice October 28, 2012
Mmm, farmer's market celery is such a different (and wonderful) beast from regular grocery store celery. Lucky you! And I'm so happy you enjoyed the salad!
Musebe October 25, 2012
This is a winner! I actually didn't have mint on hand and had to substitute with worked!
fiveandspice October 25, 2012
How awesome! I'm glad to hear the substitution worked well.
lisina October 22, 2012
my cousin makes a salad like this that i die for. and i think i like this one even better--brava!
fiveandspice October 25, 2012
Thanks so much!
EmilyC March 13, 2012
This looks absolutely delicious -- love the combination of flavors!
fiveandspice March 14, 2012
Thank you!
cheese1227 March 13, 2012
Love the celery and apple combo.
fiveandspice March 14, 2012
Thanks! It's funny but when I dreamed of this, I don't think I knew that celery and apple was a thing! But it is, and rightly so, though this variation is pretty different from the usual!
wssmom March 11, 2012
I am so glad you entered this! Love!
fiveandspice March 11, 2012
Thanks so much wssmom! I'm flattered!