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Celery Hearts and Leaves Aren't Scraps—They're Treasures

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It’s almost funny to think of celery as a seasonal ingredient.

Celery is always there for you at the grocery store—waiting patiently right by the carrots—no matter the time of year. Oftentimes naked, stripped of its leaves, and shoved into plastic bags in sets of two. (At least it’s not lonely?) 



But if you buy celery seasonally at the farmers market, you’re more likely to get heads of celery with its lush, leafy greens attached. And you want those leaves. Because—along with the pale, inner stalks (the celery heart)—they taste like celery but there's no intense crunchiness or stringiness to battle.

Just because you wouldn’t plop a yellow, wimpy central stalk in a Bloody Mary doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be used anywhere. Celery hearts and leaves aren’t scraps that we should feel compelled to use in an altruistic mission to reduce waste—they're vegetable treasures to take advantage of.


Celery Risotto

Both underutilized celery parts get starring roles in gingerroot’s subtly sweet and bright risotto, which is just the right home for them.

One note: She calls for 4 large green shiso leaves; we recommend starting with 2 leaves and assessing if you need to add more so you don’t risk overpowering the other, more delicate, flavors.

Celery Risotto with Asian Pear and Shiso by gingerroot  

Serves 4

3/4 cup Asian pear, peeled, cored and chopped (1/4-inch pieces)
3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup water
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup onion, finely chopped
1 cup celery, finely chopped (tender inner stalks)
1 cup Arborio rice
3 ounces vermouth
1/4 cup celery leaves, chopped
3 tablespoons ricotta
1/4 cup grated pecorino Romano, plus more to taste
4 large green shiso leaves, cut into chiffonade and then in half crosswise (if using basil, increase amount to 5 large leaves)

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Know of a great recipe in the Food52 archives that uses an overlooked kitchen scrap (anything from commonly discarded produce parts to stale bread to bones and more)? Tell me about it in the comments: I want to know how you're turning what would otherwise be trash into a dish to treasure!

Photos by James Ransom

Tags: cooking with scraps, celery, celery hearts, celery leaves