Saturday, July 18, 2009

Anything pesto

You know how I don' t like to waste food, right? I've attributed this to thriftiness, the bounty of our weekly produce box, and I've also blamed it on my parents. Well, whatever the root, the fact is, I've been known to use up some pretty old vegetables, whipping them into new dishes with varying success.

The other night while rooting through our fridge I discovered some broccoli from a couple of produce boxes ago. It was mostly green but a little yellow too. I held it over the compost bin for a few minutes, debating its fate. Then I had an idea.

I trimmed and blanched the broccoli in salted water, then shocked it to set the color. I chucked it in the food processor with some Italian parsley to enhance the green, a handful of toasted walnuts, garlic, olive oil, and lots of salt. Voila! Broccoli pesto!

I threw penne into the still-boiling water, and just toward the end added a handful of frozen peas. Tossed the penne and peas with the pesto, using some reserved pasta water to make it silky. Then I added parmesan cheese and tossed it again.

The final, winning touch, though, was toasting up some bread crumbs I'd made the other day with some herb slab past its prime. I served the creamy green pasta in white bowls and sprinkled golden bread crumbs over the top. It was just the right amount of garlic, balanced by little bursts of sweetness from the peas, with a happy crunch from the crumbs.

"What do you think?" I asked the husband, who generally does not like pesto, and who looked alarmed when I described the recipe to him in advance.

"It's really good," he conceded. "But wouldn't it be even better with some pork?"

Well, who can argue that any pasta dish wouldn't be improved by some salty bits of pancetta or ham? Surely not the hungry dog. But, the recipe was a definite success. And now I have a new form and method for vegetables that need reincarnation. It turns out you really can make pesto out of almost anything.


  1. I have used broccoli many times to make a easy and fast veggie sauce for my pasta, but you have taken it to new heights. This sounds wonderful! By the way, I'm making your Hangover cherry cake as we speak! Pam

  2. One more thing, I love the herb slab from Acme, is that what you are using?

  3. Hi Pam,

    How'd you like the cake? :)

    Yes, the herb slab from's great for sandwiches, toast, croutons and bread crumbs!

  4. Waste not, Want not!!! I'm looking forward to being served this dish "Old Broccoli Restored"!
    The Mother........

  5. Erin and Cee: You should try it with some old veggie of your own! ;)

    Mom: I usually reserve old food for me and the husband...I promise to serve you brand new dinners! Glad to see you got your profile up and running.