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It's Easy Eating Green, with Broccoli Pesto

HIGH FIVE. Oh yeah. I got my five year old to eat broccoli. And not only eat it LOVE IT. One small step for him, one giant leap for motherkind.

He is what they might call a kid who doesn’t like greens, so I became determined to get him to eat broccoli. He’s fine with spinach, so long as it’s cooked and on pizza or mixed into meatballs or some such. Peas get snuck in if they’re mixed with rice, but mostly he tries to eat around them. It’s not the green he’s against per se he loves pesto it’s the vegetableness of things like asparagus and broccoli. He won’t touch raw veg like sugar snap peas or (gasp!) leafy green salads. So I focused on the loving of the pesto. Whizzed broccoli might look a lot like pesto. Hmmm…

Whizzed broccoli might taste like pesto too, if I added a handful of fresh basil leaves, garlic and Parmesan. I went to the market this morning and picked up some broccoli and basil. I roasted the broccoli, rather than steam or boil it and leave it soggy while losing nutrients. (Roasting, by the way, is by far my favorite way to cook broccoli. It morphs it into something without that cabbagey bitterness it’s sweeter, nuttier, intense, with crispy bits.) I wish I had thought of roasting a couple garlic cloves along with it, just to take the edge off.

When it was done and cooled a bit, I mulched it in the food processor with a handful of basil (8 leaves or so?), a small clove of garlic, a pinch of coarse salt, and a good grating of Parmesan cheese. (No pine nuts.) Then with the motor running, I dribbled in some olive oil. I had to keep myself from eating it all off the spatula as I scraped down the sides of the bowl. And voila! Broccoli that appeals to a five year old. And can be served on noodles, grilled chicken, stirred into soups – anything you’d do with regular pesto.

Broccoli Pesto

1 small head broccoli, separated into florets and the trunk chopped into chunks
1/4 cup (ish) olive oil, plus more for roasting broccoli
a small handful of fresh basil
1 small garlic clove
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 450F. On a large rimmed baking sheet, spread out the broccoli and drizzle with olive oil. Toss about with your hands to coat the broccoli with oil. Roast for 10-15 minutes, flipping once, until golden on the edges. Set aside to cool slightly.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the broccoli (scrape any oil left on the bottom of the baking sheet in as well), basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese and salt until well mulched. With the motor running, pour the olive oil in in a thin stream. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add more if it needs it to achieve a pesto-like consistency. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

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