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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Broccoli Pesto: Low-Fat, Vegan, Extremely Tasty

We love pesto. On pasta, or on pizza. However, there are two potential problems with it. 1. Basil is not available most of the year. 2. If you're watching your cholesterol, the wonderful parmesan edge in traditional pesto is no-no if consumed too often.

We came across this broccoli pesto recipe in a Vegetarian Times eLetter the other day and altered it just a bit. We expected blah pesto and were more than pleasantly surprised by how good it was. The bonus is that it's also vegan, meaning no dairy, and low-fat — without tasting like it's food penance.

Broccoli Pesto on Pasta
3/4 cup toasted walnuts (toast them in a hot skillet, flipping almost constantly so they don't burn). Save a few for garnish.
(The VegTimes recipe calls for blanched hazelnuts, but we didn't have any on hand.)
2 cups broccoli florets (1 small bunch was about right)
1-1/2 cup loosely packed parsley leaves (we chopped the stems off a supermarket bunch)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup mint leaves (fresh from our yard because you can't kill this plant)
4 tsp lemon juice (1 juicy lemon or 1-1/2 regular lemons)
1-1/2 tsp grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon's worth)
1-1/2 tsp capers (VT says rinsed and drained and optional, but we threw them in from the jar)
3 large garlic cloves (VT said 5, but 3 was about right for us; 5 for real garlic LOVERS)
1 tsp salt
1 lb bowtie or ziti or other pasta (VT called for 12 oz. but we found 1 lb just right)

1. Toast the nuts 3-5 miutes in a skillet or until golden brown. Chop very coarsely and set aside.
2. Boil a large pot of water. Blanch/cook broccoli in boiling water until tender, maybe 3 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon, rinse with cold water, set aside.
3. In a food processor, pulse nuts, broccoli, parsley, oil, mint, lemon juice, lemon zest, capers, garlic and salt. Use a little cooking water if too thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Cook pasta. Reserve cooking water.
5. Toss pasta with pesto. Add small amounts (1/4 cup at a time) of cooking water if too thick. (It should be thick, but it should coat the pasta.) Garnish with a few nuts. Drizzle with a little olive oil.

6. Open a bottle of crisp, rich white wine or a red Zinfandel — something that can stand up to garlicky, rich, strong green sauce — and enjoy as a main dish or as a filling side.

1 comment:

  1. I love pesto and pasta! Never thought to use broccoli, but you've convinced me!