Celery, Blue Cheese and Hazelnut Salad

Here’s a festive salad for the holidays, and one that I think would be especially good paired with prime rib or roast beef. Blue cheese and celery is a classic combination and is especially good with the additions of dates (or dried cranberries) for sweetness and maple-glazed toasted hazelnuts. Yes, it’s a little fussy, but it’s the holidays! And so worth it. The recipe comes via my friend Peg’s glamorous friend Katie Sullivan (thank you Katie!).

Celery, Blue Cheese and Hazelnut Salad Recipe

  • Prep time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 4-8.

To save time, start by roasting the hazelnuts. While they roast, you can prep all the other ingredients. Celery bunches come in different sizes, so the amounts here are a little inexact. Just make sure you have enough blue cheese so that you get a little with every bite of the celery.

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces good quality blue cheese
  • 3/4 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp maple Syrup
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Salt
  • 2-3 bunches of celery, tops removed
  • 12-15 pitted dates (can sub with a handful of dried cranberries or cherries)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or hazelnut oil if you happen to have it)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice (if using Meyer lemons, use 2 Tbsp)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method

1 Remove cheese from refrigerator to come to room temperature.

2 Place hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet in a 300°F oven for 30 minutes.

3 While the nuts are roasting, prepare the other ingredients. Use a vegetable peeler to peel away the tough outer strings of the stalks of celery. Slice the celery stalks on the diagonal into 1/4-inch thick slices. Slice the dates lengthwise first in half, then slice the halves lengthwise into 3 or four pieces. If the dates are on the large size, you may want to slice them in half widthwise first. You want to end up with pieces that are about an inch long and a 1/4 inch wide.

4 Once the hazelnuts have roasted for half an hour, remove them from the oven, let cool for a few minutes. Then rub the hazelnuts together inside of a clean dish towel to remove as much of the outer dark skin as you can.

5 Melt butter in a small skillet. Add a pinch of cayenne and salt. Add the roasted hazelnuts to the pan and toast them on medium low heat for a few minutes, continuously stirring. When the hazelnuts are hot, turn off the heat and add maple syrup to the pan. Stir to coat the hazelnuts in the maple syrup. Let glazed nuts sit in the pan to cool. Later you will scrape them loose with a wooden spoon and serve atop the salad.

6 Prepare the salad dressing. In a small jar, mix together the olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Shake to combine.

7 To assemble, layer a shallow platter or dish first with the sliced celery, then dates, then crumble the blue cheese over it and sprinkle with glazed hazelnuts. Right before serving, pour dressing over top.

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16 Comments

  1. Garrett

    As someone who has eaten this salad many times now all I can say is that it tastes amazing. Fresh, creamy, with a variety of textures that keeps you intrigued and engaged in what you’re eating.

  2. Mallory

    Some apples would be good in there too! What a delicious looking salad.

  3. Becki's Whole Life

    This is so different and I love the mixture of the crunchy celery with the creamy blue cheese. The maple syrup sounds great, too. I would probably go the cranberry route for a pretty touch!

  4. Paula

    Elise, when I was a child we always had a “relish” tray on the Christmas Eve buffet that included fennel stalks. I want to put fennel on my buffet this Christmas and this recipe looks like an excellent way to do it. If I omit the maple syrup and change the cheese, do you think it will work? If so, what cheese would you use with fennel? Thanks for so many well written recipes and Merry Christmas.

    Hi Paula, your guess is as good as mine! Sounds good though. ~Elise

  5. Delishhh

    Gorgeous salad!

  6. SilBsAs

    What a great combination!
    It’s very difficult to get maple syrup here in Argentina…any suggestions for replacement? maybe caramelizing the hazelnuts with some demerara sugar?
    Thanks so much!

    Sure, sugar dissolved in a little water would do. ~Elise

  7. Al in SoCal

    Interesting, I’m 40 years old and about 3 months ago I just learned that filberts are the same thing as hazelnuts. I ate filberts for years from the shell…

    This recipe looks and sounds great!

    Little did I know. LOL =)

  8. Kath

    Some of my favorite flavors all rolled up into one gorgeous salad? Yes, please!

  9. Paula

    *UPDATE*
    I did a trial run with the fresh fennel stalks instead of celery. I followed the recipe exactly except for the maple syrup, and the blue cheese. I used sugar and water to carmalize the hazelnuts, and I used feta instead of the blue cheese. It was amazing! Thanks once again for inspiration!

  10. gracehatter

    I am stoked! So I sprained my ankle Tuesday night…thank-you Ms. LuLu for digging that hole next to the porch steps just in time for the holidays! With the ankle swollen to the size of a grapefruit, I finally realized last night that all planned trips to any more stores was just out of the question so I decided on the “If it isn’t in the pantry, frig or larder…we are NOT having it for Christmas dinner!”. This is the perfect salad to go with the prime rib and I have everything on hand. Thanks for posting!

  11. Beth in the Heartland

    Made this for Christmas Eve dinner – it was a huge hit! Followed recipe as written and wouldn’t make any changes for the next time. This is a keeper!

  12. Scottee

    We had this last night for Christmas dinner with roasted lamb and smashed potatoes. Couldn’t get our hands on hazelnuts, so used pecans and modified the prep accordingly. It was an amazing dish! We loved all the textures and the way the flavors went together. This is going on my list of dishes to do again and again–a list that grows longer with every post from you, Elise! Thank you!
    P.S.: Be sure to ad gluten-free to the index for this salad!

    Done! and I’m so glad you liked the salad. Merry Christmas! ~Elise

  13. Lisa

    This is amazing! My SIL was licking the plate clean. The flavors are spot on and it’s very easy to make. Thank you!

  14. Amy

    Made this salad on Christmas day to go with a beef tenderloin and the twice baked potatoes that are also on your site and it was a hit, as were the potatoes!

  15. Cathleen

    The maple syrup never really “glazed” the hazelnuts, even though allowed to cool completely. Could I have made a mistake?

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