I was a picky eater as a little kid and my mom had all kinds of clever tricks for disguising mountains of the vegetables I claimed to despise in my favourite dinners. Most of them involved a stick blender. Now I'm thirty and I'm still a little picky. Sometimes. So I'm not above doing a bit of disguising of my own. This recipe from one of my all time fav food blogs is a genius case in point. A bowl of steamed broccoli simplicter will never appeal. But wizz it up into a pesto and toss it through spaghetti... or drizzle it on top of a poached egg and some grilled haloumi if you're off the gluten... well then you have yourself a vitamin-packed green deal for a tough crowd at any age.
Spaghetti with Broccoli Pesto
This recipe calls for equal weights pasta and broccoli, so decide how many people you're feeding and alter the proportions accordingly! This version serves 4.
1/2 (225g) pound broccoli 1/2 pound (225g) dried spaghetti 1 tbs unsalted butter 1 tbs olive oil 1/2 small onion, finely chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced (or, more to taste) 1/2 tsp sea salt Freshly ground black pepper & pinche of red pepper flakes 4 tsb heavy cream A heap of grated parmesan (about 1/2 cup), to serve
1. For the pesto, chop up a 1/2 pound (about 225g) of broccoli. Use the stems and florets but do remove the tough outer skin of the stems with a vegetable peeler so they'll cook just as quickly. Place the chopped veg in a metal strainer or basket and steam in a large pot for five minutes.
2. While the broccoli steams, sauté half an finely chopped onion in olive oil and butter over a medium-low heat in your biggest frying pan. When the onion is tender add minced garlic, a pinch of chilli flakes, salt and pepper. Cook for another two minutes then toss in the now steamed broccoli and about 4 tbs heavy cream.
3. Transfer the contents of the creamy broccoli pan to a food processor and wizz into a pesto. Don't worry if it looks a little dry.
4. Boil pasta water and cook spaghetti. When it's ready to drain reserve about a cup of pasta water to spash back into the dish as you need it once the pesto has been tossed through to loosen the sauce to the perfect consistency.
5. Serve up in a big bowl with a generous heap of grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!