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Mar 4, 2020

Celery Leaf Pesto

This celery leaf pesto is bright and flavorful. It's wonderful spooned over crostini, crackers, pasta, pizza, salads, chicken, or fish.

Celery leaf pesto with parsley, garlic, pine nuts, and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

This celery leaf pesto is a delicious way to use celery leaves, an edible ingredient you would typically not use.

I've been guilty of tossing celery leaves without thinking about it. With the exception of this bread stuffing and homemade celery salt, I haven't given the lowly celery leaf a lot of thought.

Next time you make a mirepoix for a soup or stew, reserve the leaves from the celery to make this pesto. It's amazing.

Celery leaf pesto

Ingredients in this celery leaf pesto

This celery leaf pesto also includes toasted pine nuts, garlic, salt, olive oil, Italian parsley, Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice.

You will need the leaves from about two bunches of celery for this pesto recipe.

The next time you are preparing a recipe calling for celery, be sure to reserve the leaves! I actually bought two bunches of celery, washed and cut the stalks into celery sticks to pack in lunches and have on standby for a quick snack, and then made this pesto with the leftover leaves.

It was worth eating all that celery to make this.

Fresh celery leaves

In praise of celery

Celery has been enjoying a resurgence in popularity these days. While it doesn't have "negative calories" as we used to think when I was in college and battling the "freshman fifteen," you can still eat a lot of it without worrying about the calories.

It's great for dipping in your favorite spread or adding subtle flavor to soups and stews. Plus, it's loaded with fiber and it's so crunchy!

You can also muddle celery to extract the juice for a gin and celery tonic, or pair it with oranges for a citrus and celery salad with olives (there's also a recipe for homemade celery salt too). Celery is such a versatile ingredient.

Celery leaf pesto with parsley, garlic, toasted pine nuts, and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

About pesto

Pesto is traditionally a combination of pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, basil, garlic, and olive oil, all combined in a mortar and pestle. While the Italian food police might come after you, you can definitely experiment with the traditional recipe.

Try substituting other nuts such as almonds or walnuts for the pine nuts, and other greens such as kale, parsley, or spinach for the basil. Go for about 1 to 2 tablespoons of nuts, 1 to 2 cloves of garlic, about 2 cups of greens, a pinch of salt, and enough extra virgin olive oil to bring the mixture to the right consistency.

I made this pesto in a mini food processor (affiliate link). Other than toasting the pine nuts and washing and drying the herbs, making this took just a few seconds.

Pesto is best served at room temperature. You can keep leftovers in the refrigerator for about two days, but be sure to remove it at least an hour before serving to return it to room temperature so that the olive oil is the right consistency.

P.S. For a French take on pesto, try this pistou with basil, parsley, Gruyère, garlic, and tomato.

Celery leaf pesto with parsley, garlic, toasted pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, lemon juice, with toasted crostini.

I served this pesto with baguette slices brushed with olive oil and toasted in the oven. The pesto did not last long.

The flavor, especially with the combination of the garlic, celery leaves, and parsley, reminded me of the flavors of chimichurri sauce.

Welcome to a celebration of National Celery Month!

Hosted by Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm, the Foodie Extravaganza group is celebrating! Be sure to check out everyone's really cool celery recipes.

Celery Leaf Pesto

Celery Leaf Pesto
Yield: 6 servings
This celery leaf pesto is bright and flavorful. It's wonderful spooned over crostini, crackers, pasta, pizza, salads, chicken, or fish.


  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and roughly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves
  • 1 3/4 cups fresh celery leaves, from about two bunches of celery
  • 2 tablespoons packed freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice


How to cook Celery Leaf Pesto

  1. Toast the pine nuts by baking them in a 325 degree F oven on a baking sheet for about 8 to 10 minutes, until fragrant. Cool before using. 
  2. In the bowl of a food processor (I used a mini food processor), combine the pine nuts, garlic, salt, half of the olive oil, and the parsley and pulse until just finely chopped. 
  3. Add the celery leaves, the cheese, and the rest of the olive oil and pulse a few times until just blended. You should be able to see the separate ingredients (see photo), but everything is still an even consistency. 
  4. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and stir in the lemon juice. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Stir in more olive oil if the mixture is too thick (I did not have to add more). 
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Pesto, celery, celery leaves

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Created using The Recipes Generator
This recipe is inspired by The Mozza Cookbook: Recipes from Los Angeles's Favorite Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria (2011) by my favorite bread guru, Nancy Silverton. This is an affiliate link. There are so many amazing Italian inspired recipes in the book.

Pair this pesto with Mozza's Sugar Plum Cocktail.

This pesto is included in her stracciatella with celery and herb salad. I took this pesto to work and it quickly disappeared.

Would you like to comment?

  1. This sounds delicious. What a great way to start a dinner party, followed by celery soup and celery salad and perhaps celery steak for the main course. It could be a celery celebration LOL.

  2. That is just beautiful! And what a great reminder to use the often overlooked and discarded portion of the celery stalk.

  3. Oh, I making this for a dinner party next weekend! Thanks for the inspiration. I love using all parts of a vegetable. This is a great idea.

  4. I love pesto on a pizza. I am imagining this one on a Buffalo chicken pizza where the flavors of the celery really will complement! Yum.

  5. I love pesto and this looks so good and flavorful.

  6. Over the years we've lived in a few places where celery wasn't grown so if I could find it at all it was imported and costly. Since it's an essential ingredient to the Cajun holy trinity needed for gumbo and roux-based stews, I bought it when I saw it and chopped it up for freezing in portioned bags. Having paid premium prices, I wasn't about to throw out the leaves so those got chopped as well. After all, as you have so accurately demonstrated, they are full of lovely celery flavor. I can't wait to try using them in pesto! Fabulous idea, Karen!

    1. Thank you Stacy! I love finding a way to use every edible element of an ingredient.


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