When most people think of dishes with celery, they envision the stalks, but the leaves are also not only edible but delicious. We use them in salads, soups, or in sauces like this sweet and savory sauce recipe.
This recipe has an Asian twist to it, with Asian pear and sesame seed oil. For other cuisine versions, you can replace the Asian pear and oil with different but similar ingredients, such as sweet peppers, tahini and olive oil, or kohlrabi, almond butter and coconut oil.
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 2 cups
- 10 cups lightly packed, triple-washed celery leaves without stems
- 2 cups Asian pear, unpeeled, cored, sliced into thirds1 cup extra virgin olive oil (1 large or 2 small Asian pears)
- 2 tbsp organic peanut butter
- 2 tsp grated ginger
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp sesame seed oil
- Juice of 1 lemon (optional; your preference)
- 2 quarts of water (to blanch the celery leaves)
- Kosher salt to taste (plus 1 tbsp for blanching the celery leaves)
- Black pepper to taste
- Cut the leaves off the celery stalks, discard any discolored or wilting leaves, cut off any of the thicker stems, wash and drain three times (they can be sandy); set aside.
- Wash the Asian pears, slice in half, then into quarters, cut off the center core edge (contains seeds and tougher membranes); set aside.
- Peel the ginger, grate; set aside.
- Juice 1 lemon; set aside. (Optional)
- Add the water and 1 tbsp of salt to a large soup pot, bring to boil, add the celery leaves, carefully press down the celery leaves into the boiling water to get all the leaves submerged, stir, blanch (briefly cook in boiling water) for 1 minute.
- Carefully remove the blanched celery leaves and place in an ice water bath until cooled, drain, ball up the blanched leaves and lightly press between your hands to drain any excess water.
- Place on cutting board and chop, add chopped leaves into a high-speed blender.
- Add the Asian pear, olive oil, sesame seed oil, peanut butter, and ginger to the blender.
- Process until you have a smooth and creamy consistency.
- Pour into a medium sized mixing bowl and taste for seasoning:
- Season with kosher salt and black pepper.
- Add the lemon juice at this time if desired.
- Stir to mix well.
- Pour into 2 1 cup plastic containers, cover, place one container in the fridge (use within 7 days) and the second in the freezer for up to six months.
- Use as a pesto, or as a dip for fresh fruit (or veggies, albeit it is sweet), as an alternative to creams or custard in tarts, or, like other jams, jellies, or sweet sauces, as the main flavor ingredient in a vinaigrette.
We tried this sauce on pasta with steamed clams from Harbor Seafood and Meats. The herbal notes of the celery leaves and sweetness of the Asian pear complimented the brininess of the clams.
Cook your pasta per instructions from the producer, when done remove from the pot and add directly to the pan of steamed clams, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the pesto, give it a good couple of stirs and enjoy!
The sweetness of the Asian pear in this sauce makes it versatile enough to be used in desserts as well. Below it is spooned into a pre-baked tart shell, layered with fresh blueberries (or other berries of your choice), then covered with our sweet pepper glaze. It’s crazy delicious but best enjoyed chilled! For a less exotic version leave out the sesame oil.