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Friday, July 20, 2012

Celery Leaf and Basil Pesto Recipe- Vegan

I try to have as little food waste as possible in my kitchen, but one of those things that I always seem to be throwing out because it often spoils before I can use it all up, is celery leaves. Its a shame though because celery is one of those things I buy frequently but rarely can find on sale.
The reason for the waste though is that with so much surface area (like most leafy veggies) it spoils rather quickly, and I can't seem to find enough recipes to use up the strong tasting and somewhat bitter leaves. I do try to freeze them but I'm rather short on freezer space thanks to the 50 pounds of dirt cheap meat in there, and I use them for soup, but don't make soup too often in the heat of the summer, so the leaves often do get wasted, despite my efforts.

The other day I had this cool idea to serve a dish from grilled polenta, grilled eggplant and zucchini slices and grilled chicken cutlets (marinated in homemade Italian dressing), thinking that it would look fancy, but it needed something to top it off, and figured pesto would do the trick.

I have this basil plant that Mike bought me for 75 cents from some kids who were selling them as a class fundraiser, which regularly provides me with terrific aromatic fresh basil, but when I checked on the plant, I didn't have enough basil to make a batch of pesto. I knew you could make pesto from other greens as well, but the only greens I had were cabbage leaves and celery leaves.
I was pretty sure that a cabbage pesto was out of the picture, so I checked online to see if you can make pesto from celery leaves, and was astounded by the quantity of recipes for that. I guess my "original idea" wasn't so original after all.


This recipe, though, is my own, as almost all the recipes I found had either cheese or pine nuts or both, and I wanted to make mine dairy free, and while you can forage your own pine nuts and get them for free, I realize that not everyone is able or willing to forage for pine nuts, and store bought pine nuts are outrageously expensive, so I wanted to make mine differently.

Pesto, it turns out, is the perfect answer to strongly flavored celery leaves, as the fresh garlic, salt, lemon, and  olive oil balance out the bitterness, making it a very pleasantly tasting dish.

Use this pesto as you would any pesto, on pasta, on pizza, on potatoes, on chicken, as a spread on sandwiches, etc. It's delicious! I've included some variations at the bottom.

Celery Leaf and Basil Pesto Recipe

Ingredients
1 1/2 cup celery leaves- loosely packed
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves- loosely packed
3/8 cup olive oil
1/4-1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
2 garlic cloves
1/4 c walnuts
1/4 c sunflower seeds
1 tsp-1 tbsp lemon (to taste)

Instructions:
1. Wash the leaves to remove any dirt and bugs.

2. Put the leaves, garlic, and nuts in the food processor along with a drop of the oil. Blend.

3. Add olive oil, a little bit at a time, until you get a nice texture for your pesto.

4. Add lemon juice and salt to taste.

Variations:
Make entirely out of celery leaves, with no basil.
Make entirely with walnuts or entirely with sunflower seeds, or replace the walnuts and sunflower seeds with almonds. Or leave out entirely.
If leaving out or changing something, you may need to add more or less olive oil, salt, and lemon.

What foods tend to get thrown out the most in your home, due to them spoiling before you can eat them, or for some other reason? Do you also have a problem with celery leaves? If not, how do you use up your celery leaves?
What is your favorite way to eat pesto? Does this look like a recipe you'd try?
Did you ever have what you thought was an original idea for a recipe, only to discover that the internet is full of recipes for the same thing?


Linking up to  Simple Lives Thursday


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