Can celery leaves be substituted for the stalks in recipes?
We tasted the leaves on their own and found that they were much more intense and bitter-tasting than the stalks, especially the darker exterior ones. Next we made two batches of chicken salad, using minced stalks in one and an equal volume of minced leaves in the other. We preferred the crunch and sweeter flavor of the salad made with stalks; the leaves turned the salad too bitter. Finally, we made two batches of chicken stock, one with chopped stalks and the other with chopped leaves. Though cooking mellowed the flavor of the leaves somewhat, they still tasted too strong, leaving the soup with a slight medicinal taste.
THE BOTTOM LINE: We don’t recommend swapping in celery leaves for stalks. Treat celery leaves as you would an herb: Use a small amount to add complexity to soups and salads.