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How to Make Pesto with Celery Leaves, an ‘Overlooked Gem’

Chef Michael Sheerin’s recipe for turning their salty, bitter flavor into a delicious way of kicking up a dish.

Photo: Anna Knott

Many grocers trim the leaves off celery stalks when they start to look a little wilty, but these greens aren’t produce-aisle waste—they’re an overlooked gem. Michael Sheerin (Cicchetti, 671 N. St. Clair St., 312-642-1800) loves their salty, bitter flavor and uses them to spice up any number of dishes—pasta, veggies, fish. In fact, he invented this pesto recipe just to prove his point.

Michael Sheerin’s Celery Leaf Pesto

Yield: 2 cups
Cook time: 30 minutes

½ lb. Celery leaves
¼ cup Capers, drained
¼ cup Garlic cloves, peeled and roasted
¼ cup Pumpkin seeds, toasted
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp. Black pepper
¾ cup Tap water
⅓ cup Extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup Honey

1. Trim the leaves and rinse well in cold water. Blanch, drain, chop, and squeeze out the water. (The celery leaves should now measure approximately 1 cup.)

2. Combine all the ingredients, except for the olive oil and honey, in a blender and purée.

3. With the blender running, slowly add the olive oil and honey.

4. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate immediately.

5. Use for cold pasta salads, as a spread on bread or crackers, to marinate meat, vegetables, or fish (especially branzino), or as a dip for chips.

TIPS: Celery leaves can be found locally in most Asian grocery stores, but the largest and most bountiful come from Green Acres Farm (Green City Market, greencitymarket.org). Use the stalks in salads or to make stock.

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