Broccoli is hands down my favorite staple vegetable. Due to its versatility and easy prep, it's the vegetable I reach for the most each week. Peak into my fridge any given day, and you'll find at least one head of raw broccoli and another head already cooked in a dish. Right now I have some steamed that I've been adding to a beet lentil salad with grilled halloumi, sprouts, a lemon vinaigrette, and toasted sunflower seeds. But I enjoy it all ways: roasted, steamed, sautéed, raw, pureed into soup, and blitzed into pesto.
In today's recipe, steamed broccoli turns into a bright pesto accentuated with lemon and cilantro and grounded with toasted blanched almonds. To make it a meal, the pesto is gently warmed in a pan, folded into crispy butter beans (more on that later), sundried tomatoes, and more broccoli, then finished with parmesan chunks and lemon zest. Yes, this is as comforting as it sounds. It's Spring comfort food, Whole Nourishment style!
If you haven't tried crispy butter beans, don't pass up the opportunity! It's a simple method of searing cooked beans in a pan until they're crispy and golden brown. They're still soft on the inside but the charred skin on the outside gives them more texture and flavor.
Benefits of Eating the WHOLE Plant
If you cook often from the blog, you've probably noticed I always call for the florets and stem of vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower. That's because each part of a plant contains higher concentrations of different phytonutrients. New research this month shows broccoli florets contain higher concentrations of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) while the leaves and stem of broccoli contain greater amounts of chlorophyll, carotenoids, antioxidant activity, and detoxifying enzymes.
Bottom line: Nature has configured plants in such a way that ensures we get the nutrients we need when we eat the WHOLE plant. We also know there's a synergistic effect of nutrients in foods. Thus, another reason we want to rely on whole foods for nourishment rather than extracted nutrients in supplement form.
Crispy Butter Bean Skillet with Broccoli Pesto
- 3 Tbsp. avocado oil (or ghee)
- 1 large head broccoli, divided
- 2- 400 gr. jars (or 3 cups cooked) large butter beans, rinsed and drained well
- 12 sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped (~ 1/2 cup, chopped)
- A few splashes of water
- Zest of 1 large lemon (reserved from pesto)
- Parmesan chunks, to taste
- Broccoli Pesto (recipe below)
- 1/2 large head steamed broccoli (from list above)
- 1 large juicy lemon, divided
- 1/4 cup (40 gr.) blanched almonds, toasted
- 15 gr. cilantro (~ small handful), with tender stem
- 1 small garlic clove
- 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. water
- 1/2 tsp. salt + black pepper to taste
- Chop broccoli head into bite-size florets and slice tender stem into thin halfmoon shapes. Place a steamer basket and a few inches of water in a large high-sided saute pan. Bring to a strong simmer and steam broccoli until bright green and just tender (~6-8 minutes, depending on how wide your pan is and size of broccoli florets).
- Remove steamed broccoli, discard water in pan and wipe dry (don't wash the pan). Add HALF steamed broccoli to food processor.
- Zest lemon and set zest aside. Add juice from HALF the lemon to the food processer with broccoli along with remaining pesto ingredients. Pulse to break up almonds, then let the motor run until pesto is smooth. It should be thick and creamy but not dry. Add extra water, oil, and salt if needed.
- Place saute pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add oil, and tilt pan to coat bottom. Add beans to pan in a single layer (you may have to do this in two batches). Cook 4 minutes, until browned. Don't try to flip before they're ready or they won't release fully from pan. Add salt and pepper and flip beans to brown on the other side (another 3-4 minutes).
- Remove beans. Add pesto to pan and a few splashes of water to loosen. Warm through and remove from heat. Stir in crispy beans, broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon zest, and juice from second half of lemon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use the tip of a paring knife to cut off chunks from parmesan wedge. Top beans with parmesan, an extra drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately and enjoy!