Broccoli Basil Pesto

A recent issue of Whole Living magazine opened my eyes up to all the possibilities of pesto. I've tried using different combinations of herbs and cheeses before to make this flavorful and healthy spread, but Whole Living's recipes included ingredients as varied as carrots, pistachios, red bell peppers, spinach, lemon, and broccoli rabe. These were totally outside my realm of imagination and I couldn't wait to try them all.

Inspired by Whole Living's recipes and an excess quantity of broccoli in my freezer, I tried my own hand at playing with pesto and I came up with a healthy, delicious, and relatively inexpensive version that I love. Using veggies can really stretch a pesto without sacrificing on nutrition or flavor, and the very combination of ingredients involved sound pretty impressive to the foodie's ear.

I wasn't very exact while preparing my pesto, so the following recipe is more of an estimation of how I created my delicious and complex pesto. If there's one thing that I've learned about pestos, in addition to just how versatile they can be, is that they are extremely forgiving.

After thawing out some frozen broccoli, I added between 4 and 5 cups of the veggies to my food processor. Since they are pretty mild in flavor but bright green in color, these were the perfect compliment to my fresh basil (about a cup or so) and pungent garlic (I used a whole head for this recipe). Instead of adding the pine nuts, as traditional pestos do, I used a combination of slivered almonds and pumpkin seeds. Once everything was in the bowl of my food processor, I added a touch of salt and pepper, then pulsed until everything was finely chopped, making sure to wipe down the sides so no ingredients were left behind. Then I continued to combine my pesto ingredients while streaming in olive oil (between 3/4 and 1 cup).

The result was a bit of a flavor explosion with all the bright greenery of broccoli, the delicious flavor of garlic, and the earthy hint of basil. I topped some wasa toasts with my pesto and a smear of goat cheese for a light lunch and froze the remaining pesto in small portions for easy weeknight meal-making.

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