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Friday, May 27, 2011

Best of 2011: Broccoli Pesto Dip

I thought March and April flew by, with vacation and moving, but May passed equally quickly...we started the month with a Fundraising Trivia Night that I co-chaired, enjoyed a visit from my mom, entertained different groups of friends a few different times, and then I left town to spend a week in Newport, Rhode Island for a work conference. When I returned last weekend, I remembered that we had yet to fulfill our Best of 2011 challenge for the month of May. After April's trip to Bahn Mi So, it was once again time to break out The Twelve Best Foods cookbook. I flipped through the pages several times before selection my two recipes for this month, the first being Broccoli Pesto Dip.

We love pesto--I've made it from scratch and it's one of our favorite pizza toppings...so naturally I was intrigued by a recipe for broccoli pesto. Though technically I already made a recipe with broccoli, one of the twelve best foods (the tuna salad, in March), this recipe included walnuts, which are also found on the list of twelve foods.

The book lists a few of walnuts health benefits...
-Good source of Vitamin E, folate, magnesium, and manganese
-The only nut to contain significant amounts of ellagic acid, a cancer-fighting antioxidant
-One of the few plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids & the highest of all nuts in polyunsaturated fats (the ones that reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol)

There were a few recommended uses of this broccoli pesto, from mixing it with warm pasta to topping a baked potato with it to using it as a dip, like we did. If you want to use it as a pasta sauce, I recommend additional olive oil as ours was still pretty thick when following the recipe. This was a great and healthy dip for vegetables, but would be equally good with pita chips or crackers...or as a sandwich spread! One word of warning--this was really salty. I'm pretty positive I followed the recipe correctly so if you are trying to reduce your sodium intake or don't prefer things very salty, I recommend starting with 1/4 tsp salt and adding more to taste.

One Year Ago: Whole Wheat Focaccia with Olives and Tomatoes

Broccoli Pesto Dip
from The Twelve Best Foods Cookbook

-2 cups raw broccoli florets (minimal amount of stem)
-2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
-1/2 cup basil leaves, lightly packed
-1/4 cup walnuts
-1/2 tsp salt
-freshly ground black pepper
-1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
-1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1. Put the broccoli, garlic, basil, walnuts, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Process until broccoli is finely ground (mixture will be grainy).
2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula before drizzling the oil through the feeder tube of the food processor with the motor running. Pulse until well blended. Scrape down the sides again before pureeing an additional 15 seconds.
3. Pour the pesto into a bowl and stir in the cheese. Use immediately or cover tightly and store in the refrigerator. Pesto keeps up to 2 days in the fridge.