Saturday, March 12, 2011
Sometime ago I saw a recipe for broccoli pesto. Though I'd never tried it, I was so taken with the idea that I even mentioned it to a group of moms when presenting ways to integrate healthy foods into the diets of young children at a recent speaking engagement. Sure, some kids will shy away from "all things green", but I find that when green stuff (like pesto) tastes really good, my kiddos will gobble it up with little protest. I filed the idea for pesto made with broccoli away in the back of my mind.
Fast forward to last week when I found some lovely heads of reasonably-priced broccoli at my local market. I was thinking of making the broccoli into a stir fry or a nice side dish. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately since this was so yummy), tonight I was running low on supplies. Grocery day is tomorrow. I'm "scraping the bottom of the barrel" here. After a careful inventory of my fridge and pantry I realized that I DID have 1) a refrigerated pizza crust 2) olive oil 3) garlic 4) a block of Parmesan cheese 5) pine nuts and 6) shredded mozzarella. Ah-ha (the light bulb went on). Time to make broccoli pesto and put it on a pizza! I wasn't sure how the pesto would turn out, but I knew that my family would eat pizza.
My family always enjoys traditional basil pesto so I assumed that a pesto pizza was a safe bet. I haven't made pesto since August, though. Basil is so darn expensive right now! This summer I plan to grow my own. Wanna see my herb garden? It's in the picture below....
What, you can't find it? Well maybe that's because my herb-garden-to-be is under a fresh blanket of snow!
Yep. It's March and we had ANOTHER snow storm last night. Lovely.
I snapped this picture of our backyard just before making dinner tonight.
And so new my healthier and less expensive answer to basil pesto in early March is to use nutrient and fiber rich broccoli.
I broke the heads into pieces and steamed them until tender (about 5 minutes).
Then, because my food processor went missing during our move, I employed my Pampered Chef chopper to mince the steamed broccoli.
While I was preparing the broccoli, I popped some pine nuts into the oven for toasting. You want to toast em' until fragrant. Not until blackened....
My suggestion is to watch your pine nuts carefully during this step. This is not the first time that I have burned a batch of pine nuts. For the record, this batch went into the trash and I had to start over. I toast mine on a baking sheet at around 200 degrees. I recommend that you stir occasionally and check frequently until they start to lightly brown and are fragrant...at which point, get them outta there!
*Toasting can also be accomplished in a skillet on your stovetop.
Once the second batch of pine nuts were toasted and slightly cooled, I added them to the broccoli with the grated Parmesan, minced garlic, salt, and a little dried basil.
Then I attacked the mixture with my immersion blender. You could do all of this in your food processor or blender too. I just blended until the ingredients were all most smooth and combined. You don't want any whole pine nuts floatin' around in there....
Finally, I blended in 1/2 cup of olive oil.
I ended up with a relatively light-colored (probably from all of the cheese that I added), thick (I could've added more oil, but I was out) pesto.
This made enough pesto for a couple of recipes, so I put away half to toss with pasta for dinner next week.
With the pesto made, I went to work on the pizza. I used a refrigerated crust. I really like Pillsbury's Thin Crust Pizza when I don't have the time to make my own, because it can be easily pressed into a baking sheet. I oiled the sheet and sprinkled it with cornmeal before pre-baking the crust for the recommended 5 minutes before removing from the oven and spreading with 1 cup of the pesto mixture.
Then I topped the pizza with shredded cheese, halved grape tomatoes, and 1 thinly sliced shallot. I decided to keep the toppings simple to allow the flavor of the pesto to shine through.
Bake the pizza for another 6-10 minutes before removing it from the oven and slicing.
Krista's Broccoli Pesto Pizza
For the pesto:
2 heads fresh broccoli broken up and steamed or 1-3/4 to 2 cups frozen broccoli, cooked
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
For the pizza:
1 refrigerated thin crust pizza dough
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 shallot, thinly sliced or 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
To make pesto:
Break up and steam broccoli. Finely chop. Toast pine nuts on a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven until golden and fragrant. Combine chopped broccoli, cheese, toasted pine nuts, minced garlic, dried basil, and salt until somewhat smooth and blended in food processor, blender, or with an immersion blender. Slowly add in olive oil and blend again until creamy.
To make the pizza:
Prebake crust as directed. Spread with 1 cup of pesto. Top with cheese, tomatoes and shallot (or onion). Bake as directed or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
*This was delicious! Just a hint of the broccoli taste could be detected, which was fine with us because we like broccoli.
* Refrigerate remaining pesto for use in another recipe.
* This would have been even better with fresh mozzarella slices instead of shredded mozzarella.
* I grated my own Parmesan cheese, but the "stuff" in the green can would work fine too.
* This is a versatile pizza. Top it however you like. Next time I will sprinkle some fresh basil over the top to enhance the taste and appearance.