Did you know that broccoli stems are actually sweeter than the florets? Use up those extra stems in this incredible springy green broccoli stem pesto.
I’m getting so antsy for fresh vegetables and fruit, I can hardly stand it. It happens every spring — I’m so impatient for broccoli and cauliflower and radishes and lettuce greens and tomatoes and strawberries and blueberries, I just can’t wait for the local stuff, so I dive right into my grocery store’s produce section (and their growing organic section, yay!), and snatch up everything in sight, knowing that even better tasting homegrown/local produce is on its way soon.
Broccoli and cauliflower are always my first cravings. I’ve made many batches of cauliflower rice so far this spring (trendy, but oh-so-good) and have enjoyed bowl after bowl of my Broccoli Cauliflower Glow Soup. So, with all of this brassica love going on (brassica = the botanical genus of vegetables that includes broccoli, cauliflower, and kale), I have a lot of leftover stems.
Broccoli stems definitely don’t get the love they deserve. Did you know that broccoli stems are actually sweeter than the florets? Peel off that tough outer layer with a vegetable peeler, and use just like you would the florets (in fact, I always use the stems in my soups – always).
By using broccoli stems, not only are you being food conscientious and a good steward of our food supply, but you’re also being frugal. Instead of buying those bags of pre-cut florets (which are super convenient, but elevated in price), buy the whole head or crown for half the price, and put those tasty stems to good use!
Now, I want to assure you that this broccoli stem pesto isn’t just some hippie hipster use for something that normal people sensibly discard or compost. Broccoli stems really are, honest to goodness, delicious, and when finely chopped have the perfect texture for pesto. Blended with fresh basil — Thai basil, if you can find it (it has a gentle spiciness with a touch anise flavor) — and cilantro, and then made creamy and ultra flavorful with a little goat cheese (instead of pesto-traditional parmesan), broccoli stem pesto is fresh and tasty and ready for your spring meals.
I can eat this pesto right off the spoon, but it’s also lovely on a lightly toasted demi baguette, and topped with crunchy sprouts (see serving suggestions, after the recipe), sliced almonds or chopped pistachios and cilantro. So beautiful on the serving platter, with its bright green coloring! Or mix it in with brown rice or quinoa, or stir it into a vegetable soup for a healthy dose of extra flavor. So versatile, and stores well in the fridge without browning.
Here’s to fresh vegetable season!
- 4 to 5 ounces peeled and roughly chopped broccoli stems about 1 heaping cup
- 20-25 leaves fresh basil or Thai basil roughly torn (try the Thai basil, if you can find it)
- 1 palmful fresh cilantro leaves and thin stems
- 1 small clove garlic peeled
- 1/4 cup almonds
- 1 ounce goat cheese
- kosher salt
- extra virgin olive oil
Add the stems to the bowl of a food processor and chop until you have pea sized pieces. Add the basil, cilantro, garlic, and almonds, and process until just short of a thick paste. Add the goat cheese, and pulse until combined. Taste and add salt by the pinch until flavorful (you probably won't need much). Finally, with the processor running, drizzle in a small amount of olive oil. The quantity is really up to you. I don't particularly like an oily pesto, so I used only about 2 teaspoons; feel free to use more.
To store, place in a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap onto the surface of the pesto to keep out air. Keep in the fridge.
Have you ever grown sprouts? They’re crunchy, delicious, super healthy, and so easy to grow on a windowsill (no soil required – just water and a container with good drainage). I grow sprouts often, so I have a special sprouting container that I love: Sproutamo Easy Sprouter (affiliate link). Feel you have too brown a thumb to grow anything? Pishposh! If you can rinse and drain, you can grow sprouts.
Because of the energy needed to burst forth from the seed casing and produce lush greenery (and, eventually, fruit), sprouts are super charged with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients – everything a seed needs to grow into a plant, and just what we need to nourish us!
My favs are radish and broccoli sprouts for topping salads — and snacks and appetizers, like today’s broccoli stem pesto crostinis — and mung beans and alfalfa sprouts for crunchy goodness in stir fries and pad Thai.
The photo above shows my latest batch of gorgeous radish sprouts — love the purple and green! Ready in just five days, they grew happily on my kitchen windowsill. So pretty on top of the broccoli stem pesto, with a lovely little crunch and a touch of radish heat. To learn more about growing sprouts, check out my go-to resource for information and seeds, SproutPeople.org.