9 June 2008

Even the Kids Will Eat Their Broccoli

Broccoli Pesto Pasta

Tony Tahhan has a genuine passion for food. I was watching one of his videos and decided that this young fellow is going places with his personality and infectious spirit. Even only his love for Mediterranean cuisine would have me revisiting his site every chance I had. We are kindred spirits although miles apart in age.

His first project is called A Taste of the Mediterranean. Each month he will feature a different culinary region from the Mediterranean (France, Greece, Italy, Middle East, North Africa and Spain) along with an appropriate regional recipe for us to add our own twist to win that months grand prize. This month Italy is featured with Pesto on the menu!!! Thinking of Italy brings back fond memories of when I was about Tony's age and travelling to Rome, Venice, Pisa...As an adult I have yet to travel there again by have many dreams!!

Anyone who is a reader of this blog knows of my love for all things Greek, but did you know that I am also a closet Italian? My first reason for dreaming of a trip to Italy is the variety of cooking schools along the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany, Sorrento, Naples, Venice, etc, etc.......

Secondly Italy is truly the birth place of volcanology which is my second fascination. Vesuivus erupted in 79 AD, burying the Roman town of Pompeii; Etna is the second most active volcano in our time, now being in a phase of near-constant activity; Vulcano, the tiny beautiful island that the Romans believed was home to the God of Fire; Stromboli, "the Lighthouse of the Thyrrhenian Sea", named because of its very regular eruptions that have been going on as far back as I can remember. Give me a tour through the Eolian Islands on a sailboat and mamma mia!!!!

And the third, and perhaps most important reason to visit Italy,...the FOOD!!!!!

Pesto is a sauce that originated in the city of Genoa in the Liguria region of northern Italy (pesto alla genovese). The name comes from pesta ("to pound, to crush", from the Latin root pestle). Pesto is usually basil, pine nuts, olive oil and heaping mounds of Parmesan. The fun about preparing pesto is deciding on the proper proportions with which to combine these ingredients and whether to add any extras. Ultimately, with some experimentation, you can make pesto that suits your tastes exactly, just like every excellent cook in Liguria. Traditionally, pesto sauce is made by hand with a mortar and pestle. Fortunately, we have food processors and blenders which make the job much easier. Save your energy for other things...wink...wink... like making fresh pasta to go with the pesto (what were you thinking!!!). It is also very important never to cook pesto because basil when heated becomes bitter. Pesto is also often served on pasta, sliced beef or chicken, tomatoes and sliced boiled potatoes.

Here in the "Great White North" (where we have only just swept out our igloos), basil growing in our gardens is still at least a month away. So we need a substitute that is readily available at this time of the year. How about broccoli!!!!!!! Broccoli on its own is rather bland, but add copious amounts of garlic, good quality Parmesan and olive oil and a zing of lemon zest and you have got to love it!!! Come to think of it local broccoli will not be available for a few months either, but it is always so inexpensive at the market you have to love that too! If I strictly adhered to the 100-Mile Diet of my past post then it is out for now. I have prepared this pesto before but found it a little dry, so, therefore tweaked it a bit to make a completely satisfying and tasty treat. You are left with a vibrant and palate pleasing combination..... even the kids will eat their broccoli!!!

**Broccoli Pesto Pasta**

2 cups fresh broccoli florets
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley or perhaps cilantro
1 - 2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts(toasted)
1/4 cup shredded fresh Parmigiano Reggiano cheese ( I know I use more...just eyeball it)
1/2 cup virgin olive oil
1 T lemon zest
sprinkle of red pepper flakes
Pasta of choice

Fill a medium saucepan three-quarters of the way full with water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Add the broccoli and cook for 3 minutes or just until slightly tender, but still with a bit of snap. Drain and immediately immerse the broccoli in ice cold water to retain the bright green color. Drain again, and transfer the broccoli to the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add parsley, garlic, pine nuts,and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Pulse 6-8 times, until the mixture forms a chunky paste. Do not puree! Pulse again, drizzling in the olive oil slowly. When the mixture reaches the desired consistency, stop and serve immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Cook pasta and combine. Add more freshly grated Parmigiano!!!

Makes about 2 cups of pesto.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. my son will notice the green scrapings and scream - i might try this when i know he is really really hungry

  2. I love making pesto from whatever herbs I have on hand (cilantro, parsley, basil...) but I've never tried veggies! I wonder how a spinach pesto would be...

  3. AnonymousJune 09, 2008

    I never thought of using broc for pesto....that's ingenious.

  4. Brilliant idea! It looks both easy and nutritious. I think I will make this later in the week. I made a spinach pesto last week, so I hope hubby doesn't give me issues about too much pesto. I always say that if he can't suck it up, he can cook dinner himself! ;-)

  5. I bet they will!
    I would never have thought of making pesto with broccoli - that is a super yummy idea!

  6. WHENVER you want to go to cooking school in Italy, let me know! I've been dreaming of that for a long time! I seriously have been checking out various ones lately.
    And I hope you have some nice shoes in that Italian closet!!! LOL
    GREAT recipe, Val!

  7. Great idea Val to get kids to eat their greens!! I love veggies but my children were not to keen when growing up!!

    Rosie x

  8. Val, I always felt you were a closet Italian too :D

  9. This looks wonderful! Broccoli is actually one of the few vegetables my kids will eat without complaining, so I imagine they would really enjoy this.

  10. What a great idea. Can you feed a bastardization of this to the kids?

  11. Wow! Looks delicious! What a cool idea!

  12. thanks for the submission!! A few years too late though; I wish someone had thought of this while I was growing up and often confronted with the monotonous sides of blanched broccoli. I can't wait to try this recipe out.

  13. I absolutely love Tony - He is so creative and I love his videos!

  14. AnonymousJune 09, 2008

    Absolutely brilliant, Val! I am so trying this on my nieces!

  15. AnonymousJune 10, 2008

    OMG Val, this sounds incredible...Broccoli is one of my fav veggies, and combined with the pine nuts and parm? Gawd. Delicious, my dear! :)

  16. this is a stroke of genius, and i'm wildly impressed. so healthy, so attractive, so delicious--a triple threat! :)

  17. I never knew you were into vulcanology! That's really cool, Valli.

  18. I've been making pestos with various veggies lately but never thought of broccoli. That's a great idea. Have to try this as my children are also not fond of broccoli.

  19. Wow, that is pretty amazing and inventive Valli! I love it! :)
    I would eat this all the time!

  20. Thank you for sharing this recipe with us..I love finding broccoli recipes..wow..broccoli in pesto..yumm!!

  21. Broccoli pesto sounds excellent Val but I've got a ton of basil growing like a weed in the back yard. Like they say when it rains it pours.

  22. Broccoli pesto is on my list of things to try this summer. It sounds like a great way to enjoy broccoli!

  23. AnonymousJune 10, 2008

    I love broccoli pasta and yours looks especially great!

  24. Congratulations on your new job! I'm so happy and proud for/of you! Yay! I used to be a counselor at a Girl Scout (like Girl Guides for you, I suppose) camp and I miss the camp food. It was awesome!

    And I like your pesto. I'm allergic to nuts so I usually skip that part and the flavors are always still there. Sometimes toasted panko work for me, too.

  25. AnonymousJune 11, 2008

    I always liked broccoli as a kid... and so did my kids. The hater in our house is an adult. I'll have to try this when broc comes back into season!

  26. You are so smart, Val :D. A great informative-funny-delicious post, as always!!!! What an interesting idea to make pesto out of brocolli! That pasta dish looks like a volcano itself ;-)... and yes! I was thinking about that... wink, wink!!!

  27. Val- My son loves pasta and this is a great idea for sneaking some veggies in his diet!! I'm dreaming of a trip to Ital too...someday!

  28. What a brilliant idea! This looks like a wonderful dish. I would have never thought of it.


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