Saturday, April 30, 2011
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.