I had two leftover broccoli stalks sitting in the fridge – remnants of last saturday’s fried tofu and broccoli stirfry (which was just okay-tasting. I’m still working on my wok skills), in which I utilized only the florets. Up until about last year, I had always cut about 3 inches or so down from the florets and (gasp!) thrown the rest of the broccoli away. What am I, nuts? Truly a waste of food.
I then read somewhere that you could just as easily cook up the stalks and I had a real “DUH” moment. Since then I cut off about 1/4 inch from the bottom of the stem, pull of the stray leaves, and use the whole durn thing for whatever it is I’m cooking, especially for an ultra-satisfying cream of broccoli soup. The stalks do need a once over with a good veggie peeler, just to get rid of any fibrous bits on the outermost layer.
Recently, I saw this recipe for broccoli pesto on the 101 Cookbooks website, and thought again DUH, why not make a pesto out of a good-for-you veggie? I was inspired. Since I only had stalks (as opposed to the whole head of broccoli called for in the recipe), I improvised a little by peeling then slicing the stalk into about 1/2 thick slices, boiling them till tender, and then pureeing them in a food processor with toasted pine nuts, a handful of parsley (to provide dark green color), garlic, kosher salt, fresh pepper, and olive oil to form a nice paste. Then I boiled up some wheat fusilli and tossed that with the pesto, more toasted pine nuts, and pecorino romano cheese. It was yummy. And what a great way to sneak some nutritiousness into a toddler’s tummy!