Broccoli Walnut Pesto

From the looks of things outside, it’s going to be a while before we have lush, home grown basil ready for making into pesto. Having a craving for something pesto-like, I thought I would experiment with healthy greens that are relatively easy to access this time of year, and fortunately, are not too expensive. May I introduce you to….broccoli walnut pesto!

To make this even more delicious, I decided to treat ourselves to the wonderful hand-made butternut squash ravioli from Orillia’s own Tre Sorelle in our downtown core.

The ingredients in this pesto are clean and nourishing. I love this idea of items in nature with a physical resemblance to human body parts being very good for said body part. Case in point, walnuts. Have you ever looked at a walnut? Have you noticed that it bears an uncanny resemblance to the brain? Did you know that walnuts are extremely “brain healthy”? The fats in walnuts are extremely supportive and nourishing for the brain. Coupled with the other ingredients, this pesto is a mineral-rich, anti-oxidant dream, B-vitamin super-power, all around “crazy good for you” concoction. Taking minimal time to prepare, it also makes for a great meal when you are short on time. I have used B vitamin-rich nutritional yeast in place of Parmesan cheese for this recipe. You may wish to substitute Parmesan cheese for the nutritional yeast – I won’t hold it against you.

This handy pesto can also be used in other dishes or used on its own as a side dish.

Broccoli Walnut Pesto

8 cups of broccoli – florets and trimmed stems
1 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 cup loosely packed spinach
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 cup raw walnuts (we love Truly Organic Foods walnuts)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast (Bragg’s or Bob’s Red Mill)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 T apple cider vinegar (we like Filsinger’s)
3 T sundried tomatoes (I used oil packed)
pepper to taste
1 kg fresh ravioli or other pasta of choice (we used butternut squash ravioli)
Freshly grated Parmesan to taste (optional….for those not dairy-free)

Boil broccoli in lightly salted water for 2 – 3 minutes. Remove broccoli from water but be sure to keep water for cooking ravioli.
Allow broccoli to cool slightly. In food processor, blend broccoli, parsley, spinach, oil, walnuts, garlic, nutritional yeast, apple cider vinegar, sun-dried tomatoes and salt. You may need to stop occasionally to scrape down sides.
Serve over cooked ravioli.
Season with additional salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese if that’s your thing.