Broccoli is the great healer of the vegetable world, helping to stave off many types of cancer, so we‘re sold on including it in our New Year meals. We experimented with several broccoli recipes but settled on this easy and versatile pesto, where the healing goodness of steamed broccoli combines with walnuts (rich in antioxidants and healthful Omega-3 oils) and cheeses to make a creamy sauce for your favorite pasta.
We include directions for making a stuffing with it to use in shells or manicotti, or to layer with lasagna noodles or baked with your favorite pasta shapes. (The more ambitious among us could even use it to make homemade ravioli.) Worth a gold doubloon or two for its lively healing flavor, any way you dish it up, Pirate Pesto is both delicious and good for you! We also include the most fragrant and easy-to-make tomato Marinara Sauce recipe ever. It’s all right here:
1 large head broccoli, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup walnuts
hot pepper flakes to taste (optional)
1. Using a steamer basket over boiling water, steam broccoli until crisp-tender and bright green, 5 to 7 minutes.
2. In a food processor or blender, combine broccoli with remaining ingredients and blend until creamy and smooth.
3. Meanwhile, cook a pound of your favorite pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/3 cup cooking liquid. Add cooking liquid to pesto in food processor or blender and pulse to combine.
4. Place pasta in serving bowl and top with pesto. Stir thoroughly and serve hot.
Serves 4 to 6.
Pirate Pesto Stuffing
To bake in shells, manicotti, lasagna, or layers of cooked pasta:
Omit olive oil and add one egg to recipe. Stuff cooked shells or manicotti with stuffing, or layer with pasta and bake with tomato sauce (for a fabulous and easy recipe for tomato sauce, see Classic Tomato Marinara Sauce) with additional mozzarella cheese on top.
Omit olive oil and do not add egg. Use wonton wrappers: place a spoonful of pesto in the center of a wrapper, dampen edges, then place another wrapper on top. Boil ravioli for a few minutes in boiling salted water, drain, and serve.
By Cait Johnson, Assistant Producer, Care2 Healthy Living Channels.