I get pretty jazzed about the growth in our gardens, but one of my favorites to watch is our broccoli. This year has been one of our best seasons! We have several rows of broccoli that all stand about thigh high right now. We had to stake them to hold up their heads. They are HUGE and ready to roll! We eat a lot broccoli in this house, but we also preserve broccoli for our Broccoli Cheddar Chive soup that comes out in the fall. This harvest will be round two of broccoli. We harvested a spring crop in early May but this mid-summer crop is at least 5 times bigger. Maybe it was the heat wave. Maybe it was my son Eli who watered like a pro while we were on vacation. Everything doubled or tripled in size in just a week! We harvest these heads today and got the rows ready for our next round of broccoli and squash babies that get harvested in October.
To make use of some of these heads (cause they are too good to not eat some now!), we will have broccoli salads, stir fry dishes, we toss florets into soups, we love it steamed with a sprinkle of salt and of course, we just eat it fresh from the garden as a snack. A really good dish we wanted to share is one that we developed in June 2020 pandemic days. This broccoli basil pecorino sauce is rich, delicious and perfect for partnering with a pasta. It’s also a gluten free sauce so if pasta is not for you, it can be used on grilled vegetables, rice, potatoes, grilled meats and veggie noodles. Try it! It’s easy to make and results in a fabulous meal.
BROCCOLI BASIL SAUCE with PECORINO
- 4-5 C broccoli florets (include the tender stems), plus 1 C to add to pasta
- 3 T butter
- 1 Y extra virgin olive oil
- 2 T shallot, minced
- 1/2 C onion, diced
- 2 T fresh garlic, minced
- 1 C heavy cream
- 1 C pecorino, grated (or parmesan, or asiago)
- 1 C fresh organic basil leaves, chopped (plus 1/4 C more for garnish)
- 1/2 C organic Italian parsley, chopped (plus 2 T more for garnish)
- 1 T kosher salt
- 1 T cracked black pepper
- 2 T lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp red chili flakes (optional)
- Dash freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 8 ounces rotini or penne pasta (or bowtie)
- Toasted pine nuts (optional)
Trim your broccoli and stems into 2″ pieces. In a large stock pot, bring water to a bowl and drop all your trimmed broccoli in. Cook for about 10-15 minutes on medium heat. At the 5 minute mark, pull one cup of the broccoli out and set aside. While broccoli is cooking, grab a medium sauce pan. On medium heat, melt butter and add in olive oil. Add in shallot and onion and saute for about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and sauté for another few minutes. Remove from heat. In another stock pot, bring water to boil for your pasta. Salt water and cook pasta according to instructions – about 6-7 minutes was perfect for achieving al dente pasta. While pasta is cooking, pull your broccoli from the heat (broccoli should be very fork tender) and strain well. Add broccoli to food processor. Pulse 5 or 6 times and then add in your sautéed aromatics (shallot, onlon, garlic) and blend until slightly smooth. Add in cream. Pulse a few times and then add in cheese, basil, parsley, salt, black pepper, lemon zest, red pepper flakes and pulse for another minute. At this point you need to make the call. The broccoli mixture may be a bit grainy, which it was for us. Some people like this sauce with this texture, but I like it creamy. So at this point, we poured the broccoli mixture into a bowl and used our emulsion blender to make it creamier. It only takes a minute. Strain your pasta and pour the warm broccoli basil sauce on top. Add your extra cup of cooked broccoli. Mix so noodles and broccoli are well coated. Garnish with more basil and parsley and toasted pine nuts.
Please use some of the tender broccoli stems. Usually about 2 inches below the florets, the stems are sweet and tender. We use these parts in our salads, soups and sauces. Organic broccoli by the pound is twice as much as conventional broccoli, so utilizing the stems not only gets you more for your money, but more of the nutritious benefits broccoli offers. ALSO – we enjoyed serving this pasta with a wedge of lemon. It’s rich so the addition of a little squeeze of citrus was perfect.
BENEFITS OF BROCCOLI
Broccoli is considered a superfood. It contains a wealth of nutrients and antioxidants that support many aspects of human health. Below is an article that outlines eight sections that discuss the specific health benefits including improving bone health, combating cancer, aiding in digestion and improving skin health.