Crunchy, sweet and tangy, with gentle warmth, this apple, fennel and celery salad with walnuts and croutons is a real crowd pleaser.
A gorgeous apple salad
In season apples are just the best, aren't they? Nothing beats that perfect crunch and bright flavour. Apples are an obvious everyday snack but I also really love them added to salads, where their sweetness helps the flavour of other ingredients sing.
This apple, fennel and celery salad is a bit of a twist on a traditional Waldorf salad, but I've added fennel, and switched the creamy dressing out for a lip smacking vinaigrette gently spiced with Aleppo pepper flakes.
Pan toasted walnuts and fresh sourdough croutons add substance (and even MORE crunch) and make this a very satisfying salad indeed. Leftovers keep well for lunch the next day too (add croutons fresh if you want them to keep their crunch).
If you're new to Aleppo pepper, I highly recommend seeking it out because its mild heat and bright fruitiness is good with just about everything. Admittedly, I am a chilli lover, but I use it almost every day (I'm looking at you, avocado toast).
Aleppo pepper is traditionally from the Syrian city of Aleppo, though now comes from other areas due to the ongoing war - read more at Bon Appétit.
In Hamilton (New Zealand) you'll find Aleppo pepper at Vetro.
The combination of flavours in this salad is really fantastic so please try it as intended, if you can. There are some obvious swaps you could make if you need to though.
- Swap apple for crisp pears.
- Swap walnuts for pecans or almonds.
- The result will be a little different, but you could swap the fennel for shredded cabbage.
- If you don't have Aleppo pepper, add a pinch of cayenne pepper to the dressing instead.
- If you're nut free, try using toasted sunflower seeds.
- If you're gluten free, swap out the sourdough (for croutons) with your favourite gluten free bread, or leave out the croutons entirely.
- I like to use baby kale in this salad, but you could also use spinach or a sturdy lettuce like cos.
This is a substantial and well rounded vegan salad, but for a complete meal try serving it alongside one of these.
- White pizza.
- Mushroom, onion and lentil pie.
- Little lentil loaves.
- Creamy spinach and artichoke borek.
- Broad bean falafel.
- Cauliflower steak.
- Orange chipotle tofu skewers.
- Or keep it simple with a few grilled portobello mushrooms.
Get the recipe
For the dressing:
- 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes (or a pinch of cayenne pepper)
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon sugar or sweetener of your choice
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the salad:
- ½ cup walnuts
- A little olive oil
- 2 slices sourdough bread crusts removed and torn into small pieces
- 1 clove garlic peeled
- 4 sticks celery
- 1 apple cored, see recipe notes
- 1 small red onion or 1-2 shallots
- 1 small bulb fennel
- 2-3 handfuls baby kale or other dark leafy greens
- Put dressing ingredients into a small jar or sealed container and shake to combine.
- Toast walnuts in a frying pan (skillet) over medium heat, with a little olive oil, until golden and fragrant. Season with a little salt and set aside on a plate to cool.
- In the same pan, add a splash more oil, the torn bread and one clove of garlic. Stir or toss until the bread is golden and crisp, discard garlic and set croutons aside to cool.
- Thinly slice celery, apple, red onion and fennel (use a mandolin for the fennel if you have one). Toss together with the dressing, toasted walnuts and croutons, then arrange over a bed of baby kale or dark leafy greens.
- The salad can be made ahead of time (and makes great leftovers) – just add the croutons at the last minute so they stay crunchy.
- Use sweet, crisp apples. In New Zealand I like to use Pacific Rose or Pink Lady apples.
- Nutrition information is estimate.
- First published in the Autumn 2022 edition of Nourish Magazine.