If you’ve ever wondered, “can you eat celery leaves?”, well yes you can. Tired of wasting all those gorgeous green leaves with every bunch of celery, I created this celery leaf pesto. With a milder flavour than basil, it’s great for dipping or smothering pasta.
Chopping the tops off yet another bunch of celery, I finally decided throwing them away seemed such a waste – they’re edible after all. Immediately, I thought of pesto. It’s so incredibly simple to make – we’re talking 5 minutes and it has so many uses.
And just look at that colour – isn’t it beautiful. This luscious green pesto has a mildly peppery herby, flavour and if it’s possible, you can taste that colour.
Celery leaf pesto needs only 6 ingredients and it’s so quick to make, you may as well do it as soon as you get the celery out of your shopping bags.
- Celery leaves: These leaves give this pesto the most gorgeous green colour.
- Parmesan: This cheese does two things – it adds creaminess and umami, that wonderful super-savoury flavour.
- Nuts: I use cashews in this pesto but like a regular pesto, pine nuts will also work really well, as would almonds. Due to the slightly bitter pepperiness of celery leaves, a sweeter creamier nut works best. Walnuts would make this too bitter.
- Garlic: Another umami flavour, garlic gives this pesto a real punch.
- Lemon juice: just a couple of teaspoons added to this pesto gives it a light zing but mostly it lifts the very bold flavours of everything else.
- Olive oil: Since it makes up a good portion of pesto, I find a light flavoured olive oil best, especially in this one where the leaves are already peppery without a very bold oil. By all means, if you love a strong flavoured olive oil, you can use that.
How to make it
This is ridiculously easy to make. All you need is a food processor and 5 minutes and this pesto is ready to use.
- Wash the celery leaves and dry them well. I use a salad spinner but if you don’t have one, use paper towel to remove as much moisture as possible.
- Place the celery leaves, cashews, parmesan, garlic and lemon juice into a food processor (photo 1).
- Process the ingredients until finely chopped (photo 2).
- Now, with the processor on low, slowly drizzle in the olive oil (photo 3). Don’t pour it all in at once as it won’t combine quite so well.
- Check out that gorgeous colour (photo 4) then place it into a preserving jar and use it within 7-10 days.
From the tops of one bunch of celery, you can make 2 batches of celery pesto (or 1 ½ cups) so if you don’t think you can get through it all, gift one to the neighbours.
Grab a gift tag here! Print them out and stick them to jars then gift away.
Uses for celery leaf pesto
There are so many wonderful ways to use any pesto including this celery version.
- Try it in this Celery Pesto Rigatoni
- Use as it is for dipping, or mix through cream cheese to make a creamy dip.
- Spread on pizza bases or inside calzones.
- Spread it on a your sandwich for a next level grilled cheese.
- Swirl it through bread dough – simply roll the dough out, spread over the pesto, then roll it up and bake.
- Fill chicken breasts with pesto and cheese before baking.
- Mix it through hot pasta like this pesto caprese pasta salad.
- Use it in a celery pesto butter, then freeze for later use on cooked steaks, seafood or chicken or stirred through pasta.
How to store pesto
This pesto keeps well in a preserving jar for 4-7 days in the fridge. For best results, cover the top of the pesto with olive oil or with plastic wrap pressed to the surface then make sure the jar has a tight fitting lid.
This reduces the amount of air it’s exposed to and helps to keep fresher longer.
You can freeze celery leaf pesto too. Line a baking tray with baking paper, then spread the pesto over the top. Let it freeze, then break into pieces and place in an airtight container or ziplock bag.
More ways to use celery leaves
Celery leaves keep well so as soon as you chop them off, place them unwashed into an airtight container and refrigerate. From there you can make this pesto at your leisure or try one of these ways to use up celery leaves.
- Use scattered through salads.
- Chop them finely and cook them up with onion for the base of dishes like lasagna or bolognese sauce.
- Use it in place of herbs in stuffing.
- Use it to garnish anything where you might normally use parsley.
- Chop finely and mix through butter with a touch of garlic, then place disks of butter on top of hot steaks or seafood.
- Dry them in a 120C / 270F oven for 20-25 minutes, then, once cool, stir them through salt to make celery salt.
- Add them into omelette, quiche or scrambled eggs.
The list is actually endless. Celery has such pretty leaves and why waste it if we can make something delicious that’s also loaded with nutritional value.
Handy tools to have
If you try this celery leaf pesto, make sure to leave a rating and comment below.
More recipes you’ll love
- Homemade Basil Pesto (Genovese Pesto)
- Mojo Verde (Spanish Green Sauce)
- Pesto Chicken Calzone
- Chicken Basil Pesto Pasta
- Fish Tacos with Pumpkin Seed Pesto
- Celery Pesto Rigatoni
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Celery Leaf Pesto
- 4 cups lightly packed fresh celery leaves (52g / oz) (notes)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- ½ cup finely grated parmesan (35g / 1.2oz)
- ¼ cup toasted unsalted cashews
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- ⅓ cup light extra virgin olive oil
- Wash and dry celery leaves well.
- Add celery leaves, garlic, Parmesan and toasted cashews to the bowl of a food processor and blend on low until finely choppped.
- With the processor still on low, start drizzling in the olive oil in a slow steady stream.
- If not using it straight away, Store in the fridge in a preserve jar with a layer of oil on top for up to 4-5 days.
- Don’t pack the celery leaves too tightly or the pesto may be too bitter. Just lightly pack it. I get about 7-8 cups from a large bunch of celery.
- If you can’t find toasted cashews, you can toast them yourself.
- In a dry pan over medium heat, tossing often until they start to turn golden
- Or in the oven, preheated to 180C / 350F on a baking tray for 10-15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
- Other nuts: you can also use almonds or macadamias. Due to the slight bitterness of celery leaves I’d stick to these creamier / sweeter nuts.
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