With this recipe the classic pesto goes through a transformative experience, moving away from the traditional basil version and finding a way to use the often-overlooked leaves of celery which many discard. At its heart pesto is a simple combination: part leaves, part nuts or seed, a little garlic and cheese, then the whole thing is bound together with an acid (here we use lemon juice) and olive oil. Understanding this breakdown opens your ability to transform anything from our garden (or yours) into wonderful variations on pesto.
For instance, substituting the celery leaves for chard or kale can produce wonderful new creations. Switching the pine nuts for cashews will bring about a sweeter flavor. The pesto potential becomes endless. Pesto can be used in more ways than just a topping for pasta, try this as a glaze for grilling meats or even lovely on a slice of toast. If using with pasta consider tossing with bowtie pasta, a handful of your favorite olives, some toasted walnuts and a sprinkling of grated parmesan.
- 3 cups celery leaves
- ½ cup flat Italian parsley
- 2 garlic cloves
- Zest and juice of one lemon
- ½ cup toasted pine nuts
- ¼ cup fine grated Parmesan (for a vegan version substitute nutritional yeast)
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Place the celery leaves, parsley and garlic in a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped and broken down.
- Add the pine nuts, lemon juice, cheese and process once more until you get a more paste-like consistency.
- Now add the olive oil in a steady stream while processing, continue until you get a creamy consistency reminiscent of a salad dressing.
- When at desired consistency, taste and season with sea salt and cracked black pepper to your liking.
- Transfer finished pesto to a container and store for up to five days or use right away.