During the summer, it’s easy to turn into an impulse buyer. How can you not come home from the store or farmers’ market with more than you need when there’s all that irresistible produce out there? Freezing is one way to handle the excess. Getting creative in the kitchen is another way. Start by looking at a recipe, then mix it up a little. Before long you’ll find yourself throwing things like broccoli rabe into the food processor with nuts, a few garlic cloves and olive oil. Voila! Broccoli Rabe Pesto. Just like there aren’t any rules that say pesto has to be made with cheese, there aren’t any rules that say pesto has to be made out of herbs.
1/2 -3/4 cup walnuts
1-2 garlic cloves
2/3 cup olive oil, or more
1 bunch Broccoli Rabe (about 10-15 stalks)
1/2 tsp lemon juice
salt to taste
red pepper flakes (optional)
In a food processor, blend nuts, garlic and olive oil until fairly smooth. Blanch broccoli rabe in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Either before or after you blanch it, cut off the tougher few inches of the bottom stem. Add the broccoli rabe to the food processor and pulse until smooth, then add lemon juice, salt, and red pepper flakes for flavor. At this point you can also add more olive oil to thin out the consistency if you like.
So now you have a cup of broccoli rabe pesto, but what are you going to do with it? Stored in a tight container in the fridge with a top layer of olive oil (to keep air out) pesto will keep for several weeks. You can also store pesto in a squeeze bottle (found at kitchen supply stores) making it easy to drizzle the pesto over meat, vegetables and fish throughout the week.
The pleasantly bitter flavor and rich texture of broccoli rabe pesto really amps up a mild fish like wild pacific cod. A fillet generously coated with broccoli rabe pesto goes into the oven as a fairly unremarkable fish and comes out rich and aromatic. Try this easy meal for two: Spread pesto on a half-pound cod fillet and bundle loosely in foil or parchment paper with very thinly sliced vegetables (tomato, summer squash, red pepper). Bake for about twenty minutes at 350.