Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Another farmers' market visit this weekend led me to come up with a Citrus Risotto with Celery and Arugula Pesto Topped with Sautéed Shrimps and Crab.

I love the farmers' markets.  Every week I purchase beautiful produce that I use for a typical dish or try something new.  This time of year, the heirloom tomatoes are the best with a drizzle of olive oil and Himalayan pink salt.  http://www.cece-corner.blogspot.com/2012/08/heirloom-tomatoes-two-ways.html

And one weekend, the white eggplant turned into Purple and White Eggplant Parmigiana.  http://www.cece-corner.blogspot.com/2012/04/purple-and-white-eggplant-parmigiana.html

Then there were the beautiful leeks that became an atypical "warm" vichyssoise.

Purple string beans were part of a side of tri-colored string beans a few weeks ago.
And a variety of colored peppers were made into a dish of rainbow roasted peppers.

I know; too much enthusiasm about produce.  I should be looking at the Net sites of O-Stock or that Dazzle shoe site.  No. 

This weekend it was the Celery.  Yes, celery.  I've never seen such beautiful celery.  As I said before, I don't have my own garden.  I am a true urbanite, so I'm used to purchasing celery at the produce market or at the grocery store where it is sold in plastic sleeves and the prices change every other day, like a politician's comments during an election year. 

Whenever I would see the plastic-sleeved celery heads which sometimes have a few stalks with leaves embedded in the middle of the package, one particular dish that I've been making for many years immediately comes to mind:  Lemon Risotto. 

And, since the farmers' market celery was dark green and had leaves the size of those found on trees at a local park, Lemon Risotto became one dish on the menu -- with a twist, of course. Since I needed only about 1/2-cup of leaves for the dish, which I turned into one cup, I also had about 10 more cups of celery leaves left over.  I could not let them go to waste.  
Although some  leaves would be used as a bed for an heirloom tomato salad, I wanted to do something else with the rest.  A pesto.  When I came across a recipe for Celery and Arugula Pesto, I was ecstatic because I had arugula and parsley in the fridge.  I know, it's the "little" things that count. The Celery and Arugula Pesto recipe is adapted from Mary Ann Esposito's Ciao Italia which, I learned a few months ago, is the longest-running current cooking show on TV.

And since my initial thought for using the celery was to make Lemon Risotto, I redid the lemon risotto recipe and turned it into a Citrus Risotto where I cut the lemon juice in half and added fresh key lime juice and fresh lime juice to the mixture.  I omitted the mascarpone cheese, which was in the original recipe, and used 1/2 cup of freshly-grated parmesan cheese (since we were going to top it off with some shrimps later). 
Finally, I then swirled in about two tablespoons of the Celery and Arugula Pesto. And, as I said, this was topped with sautéed shrimps and a cooked miniature (cute) crab as a garnish.  Such fun.    

1 cup celery stalks, chopped
2 cups celery leaves
1 cup arugula leaves

1 cup parsley leaves
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds

1/2- 3/4 cups olive oil
Pink Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese*

Place the celery, celery leaves, arugula, parsley, and garlic cloves in a food processor and pulse until coarse. Add toasted almonds and pulse. Drizzle in the olive oil continuing to pulse until a loose sauce begins to form. Add pink salt and pepper to taste.

*Stir in some cheese on an "individually served" basis.  I don't "add" the cheese to the entire recipe, so I could freeze the leftover pesto, which could be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator with a light cover of olive oil for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to two months.

6 cups of vegetable broth (preferably homemade)
2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 medium red onion, finely chopped (about ½ cup) or chopped shallots
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
1 green chili pepper, minced
1 cup celery leaves, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cups arborio rice
½ cup white vermouth
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2  teaspoon fresh key lime juice
2 Tablespoons of Celery Arugula Pesto
Pink Salt
Freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 pound of U 12-15 shrimps, cooked in olive oil and garlic
1 purchased and cooked crab from the local fish monger.

Heat the broth to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Cover and keep warm. 
Separately, melt the butter in a large saucepan.  Add onion, or shallot, chopped celery, and minced chili. Cook over low heat, stirring until softened, about five minutes.  Add the celery leaves and garlic and cook for one minute.  Add the rice and cook, stirring until glossy, about 1 minute.

Add vermouth to the rice and simmer over moderate heat until almost absorbed, about three minutes.  Add the warm broth, one cup at a time, and cook, stirring constantly between additions, until most of the broth has been absorbed before adding more.  The rice is done when it is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 20-25 minutes. Stir in the parmesan cheese and lemon and lime juices.  Add the pesto and pink salt and pepper.  Place Risotto in a large serving dish. Add sauteed shrimps and garnish with a cooked baby crab, for fun!

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