Tuesday, July 31, 2012

roasted broccoli pesto

I'd always considered pesto to be one of those luxury items - It’s not cheap, but I know my fridge feels a lot happier when it’s perched on the top shelf. So I decided I should master my own pesto recipe. I've been experimenting and as it turns out, it's one of the easiest things to make – chuck everything in a food processor, turn switch on, turn switch off, DONE!

On top of that you can’t really go wrong with pesto. There are many different flavour combos you can play with. Below is one of my favourites out of the 101 batches I’ve been whipping up in my kitchen as of late.

Let’s not forget, that this kitchen I speak of is currently located in Korea. Korea is no doubt home to some delicious cuisine, however something this country hasn’t quite mastered is cheese. When I found a very small $17 wedge of Parmesan imported from halfway across the world, I couldn’t bring myself to purchase it - my wallet was dry and the parmy had to suffer.

So I tried making pesto without Parmesan and it ended up working in my favour. See, I’ve been trying to create some delicious dishes that are food-friendly for everyone. This recipe is dairy-free but still has that super rich dairy like quality that I know so many us love.

And then there’s the broccoli. A while back when I was roasting some vegetables, I had a side of broccoli on the go to steam. One ninja floret snuck its way into the roasting dish and what came of it was an out-of-this-world food experience! Roasted broccoli takes on a whole new flavour. It’s crunchy, nutty and… cheesy! That’s right, it has a yummy rich cheese-like flavour I can not stop eating.

Combine this taste with my latest pesto obsession and you’ve got yourself one kick-ass pesto recipe that I eat with just about everything. I’ll have it on crackers, with vegetable sticks, mixed through zucchini pasta (recipe to come), added on top of any salad, spread on toast with a poached egg, and… Yes, straight off the spoon from the jar on the top shelf of my very happy fridge. 

roasted broccoli pesto

1 large head of broccoli - cut in to small florets
1 clove garlic 
1 cup of raw almonds* 
1 handful of spinach 
juice of half a lemon**
1/2 Tsp of salt or more to taste
1/2 Tsp freshly milled black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil

Arrange broccoli florets on a very lightly olive-oiled roasting pan or baking dish (the florets need surprisingly little oil to roast). Bake in the oven at 180C for 25-30 minutes or until broccoli is crispy to bite and has dark golden edges. Don't be afraid to let them really brown up. Turn florets once during cooking. Set aside and leave to cool.

Dry toast your almonds in an oven for approx 12 mins on bake at 180C or 8 minutes on grill, turning once. You will know they are done when you bite into one and the centre colour has turned a lovely golden. Set aside to cool before continuing to the next step. 

If you have a food processor that is capable of finely chopping garlic, first add the garlic and blend (otherwise you may have to finely chop by hand first). Add the almonds to the food processor and pulse till they are broken up but still a little chunky. 

Add all other ingredients except the olive oil and turn processor on. Once everything begins to come together pour in oil while continuing to blend. You may need to stop it and help things along by giving it a stir. If you like a runnier pesto, add a little more oil or water. Season more to taste if you like.

Store in a container in the fridge, drizzling a little olive oil on top to prevent it from drying out. This pesto ages beautifully - after a day or two see if you can notice the flavours intensifying. Yum and Done!

Note: I'm working with an unusual little oven in my apartment here in Korea. I definitely had to adjust my usual cooking times and temperatures. So, just keep an eye on the almonds and broccoli when toasting and roasting!

* To keep things a little more affordable feel free to cut down on almonds by 1/3 - 1/2 and replace with sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds or another nut of your liking.

** I like my pesto with a real lemon punch and use the juice of a whole lemon. You can always add the juice of a quarter or half to start if you think it will be too strong.  

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