The Crisper Whisperer: Broccoli and Walnut Pesto

[Photograph: Carolyn Cope]

Time was, the word pesto conjured up a summery bowl of lightly dressed pasta served al fresco with a chilled glass of wine. Pesto was a solution to the lucky gardener's overgrowing basil crop. It was a spoonful of sunshine almost as warm as the real thing. You'd have supposed it was garlicky enough to fight off the season's first frost, but you wouldn't have had the chance to find out.

A few months ago, we talked about the possibility of branching out beyond basil—and beyond herbs altogether—as a way to manage seasonal overabundance. At least where I live, we're no longer wrestling with our overfull CSA boxes. But it turns out that pesto is so forgiving, so open-minded, that if you simply return the favor and keep an open mind yourself, it will help you solve your winter woes, too. So what if basil is a distant memory, and all you have is broccoli? Make broccoli pesto. You'll wonder how you ever lived without it.

And broccoli is just the beginning. Do you make a crazy-ass pesto from winter vegetables? Please share your secrets in the comments!

About the author: Carolyn Cope writes Umami Girl and manages a CSA in New Jersey. She stops by on Tuesdays with ideas on preparing the abundance of fruits and vegetables you might get from your CSA or the market.

The Crisper Whisperer: Broccoli and Walnut Pesto

About This Recipe

Active time:15 minutes
Total time:15 minutes
Special equipment:Food processor (optional)


  • 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets (about 1 quart)
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese


  1. 1

    Bring large pot of well-salted water to boil over high heat. Add broccoli florets and cook for two minutes. Drain broccoli well and set aside.

  2. 2

    In food processor, combine broccoli, walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, and salt. Pulse until broccoli and nuts are finely chopped. Then, with motor running, pour in olive oil in slow stream. Mix in grated cheese.

  3. 3

    Toss with pasta, spread onto toasted baguette slices, or as sauce for chicken or fish. Pesto will keep in sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three days.


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