Luckily, we have one child that absolutely loves broccoli. Another is very lukewarm about the prospects of eating it, while the third, I had to make a deal with him that he could eat carrot sticks instead of steamed broccoli. So how do you get kids and adults alike to eat more of their greens? Pesto is a good trick. Okay, perhaps not with the volume of garlic I like to use, but essentially the idea behind it works. This broccoli pesto is my “grown up” version, with a healthy portion of garlic, chili flakes and tangy lemon. You may ask yourself but why a pesto from broccoli? Do we really need to change something that already works? Sure, why not. I love broccoli and I love the idea of finding more interesting ways to eat it, other than my usual ho-hum-lightly-steamed-served-on-the side version. Not only is this broccoli pesto fabulous served with pasta, it’s a great alternative to standard Genovese pesto spread on a sandwich or a wrap.
NOTE: I mashed my broccoli with a fork and used my hand operated mini blender to chop up the garlic and pine nuts, but a pestle and mortar works also fine, or if you have a blender or food processor you can just throw all the ingredients in it and pulse them for about a minute.
When using pine nuts, be sure toast them first to bring out their nutty flavor.
400 g pasta of choice, plus 1/2 cup (120 ml) reserved cooking liquid
2 large broccoli heads, cut into flowerets, quartered if large, stems removed (250 g)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large organic lemon
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
3 tablespoons pine nuts, roasted
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan, plus more for serving
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Cut the lemon in half to set aside.
2. Steam the broccoli for 4 minutes. In a large bowl, mash the broccoli with a fork (alternatively, use a food processor and blend until finely chopped).
3. Mix together the garlic, juice from one half the lemon, chili flakes, pine nuts and olive oil with the broccoli and process until it becomes a smooth paste. Taste it. Add a tad more olive oil if it seems too dry, plus a little salt and pepper, according to taste.
4. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to packet directions, until al dente, in a large pot of salted, boiling water. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup (120 ml) cooking liquid, and return pasta to pot.
5. Mix together the drained pasta with the pesto mixture and add enough of the reserved pasta water to form a sauce (adding a little at a time until it reaches the desired consistency). Cook over medium-high for 1 to 2 minutes, tossing the mixture until evenly coated.
6. Serve into four serving bowls. Squeeze the juice of one half of lemon on top of each bowl of pasta. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with parmesan and serve. Enjoy!