Sunday, October 20, 2013

Zesty Broccoli-Walnut Pesto

raw broccoli pesto pasta
Photo by Jules on Flickr
This thrifty alternative to traditional basil and pine nut pesto is just as tasty and probably even more nutritious than the traditional version.

Because the broccoli is lightly cooked first, its flavor will be mellower and unlikely to "offend" the sensibilities of those who usually turn their nose up at broccoli. In fact, if you don't disclose this ingredient, I'm willing to bet that no one will guess your pesto was made with broccoli. Give it a try and leave a comment below to let us know what you -- and any other diners -- think.

I prefer this pesto to be garlicky and slightly spicy. If you want a milder flavor, use less garlic and omit the red pepper flakes.

Serve my zesty broccoli walnut pesto with linguine, fettuccine, spaghetti, penne, or any other kind of pasta. You can also spread it on a pizza crust and top with your favorite pizza toppings to make pesto pizza.

1 lb frozen chopped broccoli
1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh parsley leaves (save stems in freezer for soups etc.)
1/2 cup or more extra virgin olive oil
6 to 8 cloves garlic (or less if you prefer)
3/4 cup grated parmigiano cheese
3/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Optional: Up to 1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes

Cook the broccoli according to package directions, but reduce the cooking time by a minute or two so that the broccoli is still bright green. Drain well and place in blender or food processor along with all ingredients except the salt and peppers. Blend or process to desired smoothness, stopping to scrape down the sides and drizzle in a little more oil if needed. Taste and season with salt, ground pepper and red pepper flakes to taste, pulsing a couple of times to blend in the seasonings. If not using right away, transfer into a lidded container and drizzle a thin layer of EVOO over the pesto before covering with lid. Store in refrigerator.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  If you like to spice up your pasta or pizza with a few splashes of hot sauce and are wondering what would go well with this pesto sauce, I recommend Tahiti Joe's Italian Heat Tropi-Garlic Hot Sauce.

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