Garlicky Celery-Leaf Pesto

Sauces & Spreads


Yesterday it stormed at the West LA farmers’ market. The wind howled and was indiscriminate in its punishment, knocking over A-frame signs and garbage bins and ripping canvas away from tentpoles. Lori and I scuttle from stand to stand. It is like being back in Seattle. Lori walks right down the middle of the street, her rain jacket zipped all the way up to her huge grin.

“I’ve missed this,” she says. I tell her Mmm-hmm or something just as non-committed, but what I’m really telling her is Yeah, me too.

We stop to sample chocolate, primarily to warm up the shivering woman behind the table. Conversation is what keeps all of us warm. We approach and she comments on the weather, telling us to please come closer. It really is like being back in Seattle, where strangers begin conversations with talk about the weather. Some of the chocolate has sugar and some doesn’t, but every melted morsel is delightful in our mouths. A man passing by sees the warmth and joins the three of us, all of us now hovering closely under the tent.


Dry again, back in the car, we eat breakfast dumplings with pork and eggs. A woman steamed them in a wok on a camping stove.

“We meant to eat brunch,” Lori says. She’s right. Sometimes these mornings–our schedule full of lines to cross off–slip away, and we forget about the in-between lines that assure us the leisure we keep meaning to make time for. We dip the dumplings in organic ketchup. The clouds are bursting. This is the first road food we eat in Lori’s new car and this stormy morning feels more special because of that.

Lori is pretty sure she doesn’t have to begin writing her essay just yet, so we buzz over to our new favorite coffeeshop. It feels like months since we had a Sunday off together.

“It’s homey in here,” Lori says. “It feels broken in.”

We sip spiced lattes and I chat with the barista as if I know why origin and growing altitude matter for this particular cup of coffee. I don’t, but the barista is nice enough to treat me like an adult.

The sun begins to peek out, but the storm is about to get fiercer. We will soon lose power. Leaves and sticks will fly around outside. One of the bulbs on the string of outdoor lights will burst. Down the street, a tree will fall onto a Range Rover.

But I won’t notice any of that, because I’ve got this babe with her new car that smells like potstickers and coffee and this badass bunch of celery leaves the farmer decided not to hack off.



  • 150 g. celery leaves* (4 cups packed)
  • 100 g. almonds, roasted (2/3 cups)
  • 15 g. garlic (3 cloves)
  • 2 Tbsp. parmesan powder
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • About 1 cup extra virgin olive oil



  1. Rinse and spin-dry the celery leaves.
  2. In a food processor, blend the almonds until they are ground, but have not yet formed an almond butter.
  3. Add into the food processor: garlic and lemon juice. Blend until pureed.
  4. Incorporate the celery leaves cup by cup, until pureed.
  5. Drizzle in the olive oil, tablespoon by tablespoon, until the puree is no longer a spinning clump, like it’s made of dough — it should be smooth and creamy.
  6. Add sea salt and parmesan powder to taste.
  7. To serve, garnish with some chopped nuts, maybe a glug of oil, if that’s your fancy.


* Sometimes, when celery is shipped to supermarket produce departments, it still has a good amount of leaves on it. Produce clerks tend to clip and toss these, since most customers don’t want to pay for them. Try asking one of the clerks, next you’re around the market, if they could hang onto some for you next time. Chances are, you’ll get them for free or discounted.


All photos taken and copyrighted by the lovely Lori Paulson.


3 thoughts on “Garlicky Celery-Leaf Pesto

    1. Thanks, Carissa!!! Slowly but surely, LA is growing on me. So glad to see you didn’t forget about this dusty old blog!

  1. Brian,

    Thanks for keeping this up; like the story and the recipe….and the pics, Lori. How is law school? et al…
    Southern CA seems agreeable to you guys. Bueno.

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