I love celery leaves. They are magnificent. They can be cooked in so many ways. Perfect to flavour soups and stews,; add to salads; it’s a fabulous alternative to parsley. But a celery leaf pesto is just a great alternative to its Genovese basil sauce friend.
Have you ever smelt a large bouquet of celery with its bush of leaves on top? They have a strong aroma and bitter taste but combined with oily nuts and salty parmesan it’s a great combination of flavours. It’s a fantastic alternative to the sweet leaf basil which has become one of the nations favourite pasta sauces.
The bitterness of the celrey leaves, is combined with the sweeter chard alongside earthy chickpeas to balance out the flavous. Plus the lemon zest at the end really brightens it. A relatively quick and simple pasta recipe to add to your mid-week dinners. It’s full of goodness, packed with a heap of flavour and has lots of different textures to enjoy. Go on, give this celery leaf pesto recipe ago with this fabulous vegetarian pasta dish. You won’t regret it.
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Celery leaf pesto chard and chickpea pasta (serves 2/3)
30g celery leaves, without the stem
10g pine nuts
10g toasted flaked almonds
2 garlic clove, peeled ( 1 whole, 1 finely sliced)
100ml extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp grated parmesan
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 tin (400g) of chickpeas , drained
200g chard, leaves and stalks separated.
250g pasta (tagliatelli or linguine)
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- First, make the pesto. In a food processor, add the pine nuts, almonds, 1 whole garlic clove and celery leaves. Pulse it until everything is roughly chopped up. Not too fine.
- Next pour in the 100ml extra virgin olive oil while pulsing to make sure that the sauce is emulsified together.
- Then pour the sauce into a bowl. Add the parmesan. Stir well and taste. Season with salt as needed. Set aside.
- Next, drizzle 2 tbsp of olive oil into a large frying pan. On a low heat, fry the sliced garlic, shallot and celery. Add a pinch of salt. Cook for 5 minutes until the vegetables have softened.
- Next add the chickpeas, and chard stalks. Give it a stir and cover the pan with a lid and cook for 5 minutes
- In the meantime, bring a pan of water to the boil, season it with plenty of salt and cook your pasta as instructed on the packet.
- Collect some starchy pasta water with a mug, 2 minutes before the pasta has finished cooking. Then add the chard leaves to the pan with 2 tbsp of pasta water. Cover the pan again with the lid.
- When the pasta has cooked, drain, and add to the chickpea and chard. Give it a good stir. Remove off the heat.
- Finally, pour the celery pesto on top and stir everything together until the pasta is well coated in the sauce and vegetables. Serve with grated lemon zest. Serve immediately.
- It’s important to pulse and not continually blitz the ingredients. Blitzing will create heat and impact the flavour of your ingredients.
- Make sure you pour in the olive oil in slowly to help emulsify all the ingredients together rather than pour it in all one go.
- Makes sure you add parmesan in before seasoning it. Parmesan is already salty so you may not need much salt. Rock salt is better here rather than fine salt as it’s milder in flavour.
- Make sure you add a pinch of salt to the vegetables to help draw out any excess water and help give the ingredients more flavour.
- No tip
- Make sure the pan is seasoned with plenty of salt to help flavour the pasta. Dip a teaspoon into the water and taste. It must be as salty as the sea. It’s approximately 6g of salt to 1 litre of water.
- The pasta water will not only help cook the chard leaves but will emulsify with the flavoured olive oil to create a light silky sauce
- No tip
- Add some pasta water to the pesto to loosen it up (if needed) and help coat the pasta.