For day 5 of my series “12 Days of Thanksgiving Recipes” we are making a pear, apple, and celery salad! This salad is the perfect mashup of winter and summer — it is incredibly fresh and bright, but uses apples and pears, which are winter produce! Plus it has a lemon vinaigrette and is topped with brown butter pecans so if that isn’t the best combination, I’m not sure what is.
One reason I love this salad is that it is not wasteful! We are using 5 stalks of celery for this salad, but rather than cutting off the tops of the celery and throwing them away, we are using it all, including the celery greens! If you’ve never had celery greens, its the leafy green at the top of a stalk of celery, and it tastes like a delicious green that you would expect in a salad!
what ingredients do i need for this pear, apple, and celery salad?
- pear (i like bosc)
- apple (i like fuji or honeycrisp)
- celery (including the celery greens)
- olive oil
- white balsamic
- maple syrup
- lemon zest
- salt and pepper
The secret to this salad is that it is so crisp and fresh. Because of this, try to find the crispest apples and pears you can! Mushy apples and pears will really just not be ideal with this salad, so find the firm ones.
how to prep this salad before thanksgiving:
Thanksgiving is PACKED with food which means there is so much food prep and cooking and baking to do. So, to make this easier, here are a few things you can do well before your Thanksgiving dinner to get this salad (mostly) ready!
Since the pears and apples will brown if they are cut very early, save that until right before you serve this salad. But, the rest of this salad can be prepped beforehand! The celery can be washed and cut, with the celery greens saved and set aside. The brown butter pecans can be made and kept in a sealed container. The dressing can be made anytime and kept in the fridge. Then, just before serving, cut up the pear and apple, toss everything with the prepared dressing, and top it with pecans. Easy! This will save you so much time the day of, and you’ll still have an incredibly fresh salad!
substitutions and variations
- white balsamic vinegar: The dressing uses white balsamic vinegar. I highly recommend getting this if you don’t have it. White balsamic vinegar has a more subtle and bright taste than balsamic vinegar which works great in this salad! With that said, if you can’t find white balsamic or you are in a time crunch and just don’t have it on hand, normal balsamic vinegar will work. The dressing will be a much darker color and the taste will be slightly different, but it can work in a pinch!
- choice of nut: I love brown butter pecans. They’re made by taking un-roasted pecans and cooking them in brown butter and a little salt. They bring a perfect saltiness to this salad that is so important. However, if you don’t like pecans or are allergic, another type of nut can be used. I think pine nuts or walnuts would work beautifully as well! Pecans are obviously still my first pick, but you do you.
- type of pear / apple: The only aspect of this salad that is non-negotiable is the crunchiness of the pears and apples. They must be crunchy! Beyond that, it is up to you. I like using Bosc pears as they have a great crunch and flavor. For apples I love fuji or honeycrisp. You can use other varieties, but make sure you use a red apple — a green apple would be too tart here.
- no celery greens? When you go to the grocery store, look for celery that is not pre-cut. We want to use celery that still has the tops on because we are using the celery greens at the top in our salad! With that said, if you can’t find celery that still has celery greens, don’t stress — you can still make this salad. To substitute, I would use arugula instead! Arugula is a tangy green that would mesh well with these flavors!
want to make this vegan?
This salad can easily be made vegan! Instead of using brown butter pecans, just use pre-roasted pecans. Also, just don’t add the parmesan on top. And that’s it! You’ve got a vegan salad!
other recipes from my 12 days of thanksgiving recipes
- turkey cranberry sliders
- butternut squash, kale, and farro salad
- apple cider donuts
- apple, cheese, and hot honey pull apart bread
pear, apple, and celery salad
- 10 stalks celery + celery greens
- 2 pears
- 2 red apples
- 1/2 cup un-roasted pecans
- 2 tbsp butter
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup parmesan
lemon balsamic vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- pinch of salt and pepper
- Wash the celery and tear off the celery greens at the top of each stalk. Set the celery greens aside (we will use these later). Cut the celery into thin strips.
- Core the pears and apples. Cut them into thin strips, about 1 inch by 1/4 inch. Add the celery, celery greens, pears, and apples to a bowl.
- To make the brown butter pecans, heat the butter in a small pan over medium-low heat. Stir as the butter begins to melt and bubble. After a few minutes it will foam slightly and begin to brown. When you see it turn the brown color (it will also smell nutty), add in the pecans and a pinch of salt. Turn the heat to low and cook the pecans for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the pecans have roasted and become a darker brown, take them off the heat and transfer to a bowl to cool.
- To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a bowl or jar. Whisk until all the ingredients are well combined. My favorite way to do this is to use a milk frother — it works wonders!
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Top with pecans and parmesan (optional). Enjoy!