Monday, 11 November 2013

Eat Your Greens - Broccoli Pesto

What's your favourite vegetable?  Are there some that you just won't touch, even under pain of terrible things?  I was musing the other day and I can't think of one vegetable that I don't adore which, I'm sure you'll agree, even for an indecisive omnivore is taking things a bit Too Far.

It does mean, though, that when I head down to the Harbourside Market on a Sunday morning, after I have a nosy wander round the stalls, but before I indulge in the best breakfast in Wellington, bar none (Masala Dosa from the Brahman - $10 of pure happiness and therefore worth every cent), I do tend to get overexcited and completely overestimate the amount of vegetables that we need for just the two of us (and just the one of me, really, on the three nights a week that Andy works).

I am never averse to simply-cooked vegetables, cooked till just al dente (except my secret food shame, overcooked cabbage), but when I have such a volume to get through, I have to get a bit creative with what I do with them.

This Broccoli Pesto came about on just such a night.  I was musing that I was keen for summer to start for a million and one reasons, one of them being my basil would grow and, if all goes to plan, I will have enough this year for a regular supply of pesto.  Until then, until then... what could I do?  My eyes fell on a head of broccoli, a seemingly everlasting reminder of my market profligacy.

Par boiled so it has still got plenty of crunch, colour and texture, then mixed with the pesto classics, parmesan, garlic and pine nuts, a good handful of parsley and some cream to bind, this has the beautiful grassy flavour of broccoli combined with the nubbliness of pesto.

Use it on it's own, or use it as I did as the base of a pasta dressing with peas and bacon, just use it.  Because you need to eat your greens, you know.

Broccoli Pesto

1 head broccoli
20g parmesan, grated
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 handful parsley
2 tablespoons cream
salt and pepper

Chop the broccoli into florets, then chop the stalk into one inch pieces.

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, and parboil the broccoli stalks for 2 minutes, adding the florets after one minute.  Drain well.

In a food processor, blitz the pine nuts, garlic, parsley, oil and salt and pepper until the nuts have been ground but there are still a few larger bits left - this is important for texture.

Add the broccoli and pulse until mostly broken down into small pieces.

Add the parmesan and cream and pulse until well combined.

When you use it, retain a cupful of the cooking water from the pasta.  Use this to 'loosen' the pesto when you add it to the pasta, stirring through a spoonful at a time until it melds into the sauce and it coats the pasta easily.

This pesto freezes very well.

Serves 4

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