I love a good pesto…but I also love to tinker with recipes, and it’s in that spirt that I made this broccoli pesto.  Traditionally, pesto is a very tasty combo of ground, garlic, pinenuts, parmesan cheese, olive oil and…basil.  I love it.  But I also love broccoli.  And I really love the health benefits of eating broccoli, so I fiddled around a bit, and started make broccoli pesto essentially, the exact same way as the traditional version.  The end result is a pesto that is stronger and more pungent than a pure basil version, but still more mild, and flavorful than straight broccoli.  I use mine most often as a pasta sauce, but broccoli pesto can also make a great dip with peta chips, or even a sauce for chicken, fish or pork.  Hope you enjoy it!

Recipe Overview and Keys to Success

To make the best broccoli pesto, just follow these few simple steps:

  1. You can’t make the pesto with raw broccoli, so you need to blanch it first.  Blanching will cook the broccoli and also soften the flavor just a bit…if done write.  Make sure  you cook it to where it’s just tender, and then immediately move it to an ice bath to stop the cooking and set the nice green color
  2. While it is broccoli pesto, I still like to add some basil leaves, which gives the best another flavor component, and helps keep the green color
  3. Finally, the ratios of one ingredient to another, are important, but not exact.  As you blend everything together to you need to taste as you go, and  you add more of anything as you go to adjust the pesto to your tastes…and don’t forgot to season with salt and pepper!

RECIPE FOR BROCCOLI PESTO

Ingredients (for 2)

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped broccoli
  • 3/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Olive oil – up to a cup
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pinenuts

Making the Broccoli Pesto

  • Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, and drop in the chopped broccoli
  • Cook until the broccoli becomes just tender, and then remove the broccoli to a bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking process and to set the color
  • In the same boiling water, add the basil leaves and cook for 30 seconds, remove and also put into the ice bath
  • Once cooled, remove the broccoli and basil and drain well on paper towels
  • Add the drained broccoli and basil to a blender, along with the garlic, pinenuts, parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper
  • Add about two tablespoons of olive oil to start, and pulse the blender several times to combine the ingredients
  • At this point, you need to decide if you need more olive oil or not.  If the pesto is very thick, drizzle a bit of olive oil in, and blend again.  Continue until the pesto is easily spreadable paste consistency
  • Taste the pesto, and adjust the seasoning and re-blend if needed
  • Serve as a dip, a sauce for meat or fish, or tossed with your favorite pasta

Wine recommendation: This pesto is a bit more pungent and flavorful than a traditional pesto sauce, and so I think it can stand up well to a lighter red wine.  Go for a Gamay, or a Pinot Noir (maybe a less fruity version, from the Russian River Valley), and I think you’ll love the pairing.  Enjoy!