Smart and pretty: Broccoli Pesto Pur


“Pesto Purée” is a bit redundant, no? Obviously, a pesto is going to be puréed, and often times (in my kitchen at least) a purée is a pesto. It’s just that I’m never certain what to call this; it started as a puréed pasta sauce and gradually morphed into a pesto, so I now use both terms.

It was this recipe from The Kitchn that first got me on to puréeing broccoli. It has you sautée the veg with onion, garlic and parsley before blending with feta cheese to create a rich but healthy pasta sauce. I used to make this frequently but despite the delicious outcome, I’m far too lazy to cook when cooking isn’t truly required. I started to adapt the recipe to suit my lazy leanings, and gradually it became something closer to pesto: quick-blanched broccoli blended with nuts, parmesan and a touch a raw garlic.

I’d never thought to use my Pesto Purée for anything other than pasta though, so I was intrigued when Heidi posted her Double Broccoli Quinoa last week. Our recipes are similar enough, and anything that can make quinoa more interesting is fine by me. (No offence intended to quinoa, which is a healthy and delicious grain. Let’s face it, though: if quinoa was a girl, she’d be one of those serious, dull types, intent on following rules and having as little fun as possible.)

So I whipped up a batch, tried it, and loved it. Now that I’ve had my eyes opened to the possibilities, I can’t stop thinking about all the possible uses for this sauce. Apart from tossing it with pasta or quinoa, you could spread it on pizza dough in lieu of tomato sauce, layer it between noodles for a rich and flavorful lasagna, or serve with some grilled salmon.

So call it a pesto, or a purée, or whatever- but just make it. Because if this Pesto Purée was a girl, she’d be the smart, pretty one who’s friends with everyone, and who doesn’t love a girl like that?


Broccoli Pesto Purée

makes about 2 cups

  • one small head of broccoli (about 2 cups of florets)
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts or chopped blanched almonds (or a mix)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of half a lemon
  • a good pinch of sea salt

  1.  Cut the broccoli into florets, rinse it, and cook until tender. You can do this one of two ways: by dropping into a pot of boiling water for 3-4 minutes, or by steaming in a vegetable steamer for 4-5 minutes. Either way, rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process when done.
  2.  Place the cooked florets into a food processor with all the other ingredients except the salt. Blitz until smooth, taste, and add the salt if necessary. (Alternatively, you can dump everything in a bowl and use an immersion blender, as I do.) Purée will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for three days, or in the freezer for up to a month.
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