Sweet And Sour Celery Cilantro Salad

Sweet And Sour Celery Cilantro Salad — try saying that ten times fast! Celery is such an underrated vegetable, usually relegated to adding crunch or taking up space on a snack tray. Celery can be so much more than that, and here it’s the star of the dish. Read on, or jump straight to the recipe, HERE.

Sweet & Sour Celery Cilantro Salad | Will Cook For Friends

Is it weird to admit I really like celery?

It’s true. This humble little veggie is usually neglected on snack trays, and in the kitchen is typically relegated to adding crunch to chicken salads. It goes in soups and stews, but you might not think it’s really doing much for the flavor of the dish.

That’s where you’d be wrong. It turns out, celery actually enhances the sweetness and umami flavor of a broth when it’s been sauteed with the onions and carrots (what’s called a “miropoix” in French). You might not pick out the flavor of celery in your soup, but it’s there enhancing the other flavors and giving everything a boost.

Basically, celery is workin’ it’s little veggie butt off and we don’t give it a second thought. I say it’s time that changes.

Sweet & Sour Celery Cilantro Salad | Will Cook For Friends
Sweet & Sour Celery Cilantro Salad | Will Cook For Friends
Sweet & Sour Celery Cilantro Salad | Will Cook For Friends

A few weeks back I saw this recipe from Ina Garten, and realized it was about time celery have a dish where it can really be the star. This celery salad is nothing like Ina’s, but I was inspired by her use of celery as the main ingredient. It’s about time it had a moment in the spotlight, don’t you think?

This salad couldn’t be simpler to make, and the Asian-inspired sweet, tangy, spicy dressing makes it the perfect thing to punch up any main dish.

Sweet & Sour Celery Cilantro Salad | Will Cook For Friends

Cilantro is one of those polarizing herbs. People either love it or hate it with a passion, and there’s not a lot of middle ground. If you’re a cilantro hater, be warned: this salad is cilantro heavy. That said, you can try swapping the cilantro here for about half as much flat leaf parsley. It will still be delicious.

Have you ever used celery as the star of a dish? What’s your favorite way to use it? Let me hear it in the comments below.

5.0 from 5 reviews
Sweet And Sour Celery Cilantro Salad
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: gluten-free, mostly raw
Serves: 4
  • 4-5 cups chopped celery, leaves included (about 1 bunch)
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, packed, chopped
  • 1 green onion, sliced (white and green parts)
  • ½-1 fresno chili, seeds and veins removed, thinly sliced*
  • Juice of one lime (about 3-4 TBSP)
  • 2 TBSP rice vinegar
  • 2 TBSP honey (warmed if it isn't liquid)
  • ½ tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1-2 TBSP toasted sesame seeds (I used black and white sesame seeds, but either works fine on their own, too)
  1. Wash the celery well before chopping. Add everything to a bowl, and toss to combine. (Seriously, it doesn't get much easier than that!)
*The first time I made this recipe I used a whole chili and wasn't very careful removing the seeds and veins, and it was definitely too spicy for me. I recommend removing the seeds thoroughly, and starting with just half a chili pepper -- you can always add more later, but since peppers can vary in how spicy they are from plant to plant, it's good to play it safe at first. If you're heat sensitive, you can swap the chili for a pinch of red pepper flakes instead.


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12 Responses to Sweet And Sour Celery Cilantro Salad

  1. Karen January 28, 2017 at 3:56 am #

    I can’t wait to make this! ILove Celery! Cilantro is my favorite herb. Love. Thanks!

    • Willow Arlen January 28, 2017 at 9:04 am #

      Thanks Karen, I’m so glad you’re going to make this!

  2. Michelle Frank | Flipped-Out Food January 28, 2017 at 11:52 am #

    I never thought of making a salad with CELERY as the starring ingredient! What a great idea! This salad looks delicious—it will DEFINITELY be coming to a plate near me!

    • Willow Arlen January 28, 2017 at 12:02 pm #

      Neither had I, until I saw Ina Garten do it! We should be thanking her for her brilliance. I just couldn’t resist making this asian-inspired version. I hope you like it!

  3. Sandra Shaffer January 28, 2017 at 1:07 pm #

    Celery doesn’t get the attention it should! I love the refreshing crunch it adds and with cilantro this salad looks wonderful! Simple dressing too – this is going on my must try list!

  4. Jessica (Swanky Recipes) January 28, 2017 at 2:46 pm #

    I just picked up a bunch of celery for dinner last night and have extra. I bet this would be a huge hit for game day! Can’t wait to try it with a jalapeno!

    • Willow Arlen January 29, 2017 at 9:07 am #

      Ooh, it would be great with jalapeno! I hope you like the recipe!

  5. Hannah Healy January 28, 2017 at 3:15 pm #

    I love an amazing and colourful salad more than anything!

    • Willow Arlen January 29, 2017 at 9:08 am #

      Me too, salads are usually so underrated.

  6. Holly Sander January 28, 2017 at 3:20 pm #

    This salad sounds wonderful! I love celery!! In fact I was literally just eating some 5 minutes ago. ? The cilantro with sweet and spicy dressing sounds delicious too! I can’t wait to give it a try!

    • Willow Arlen January 29, 2017 at 9:08 am #

      Hahaha! I’m guessing you’ll love this salad, then!

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