We at weirdcombos love eating broccoli rabe. This underrated vegetable is packed with distinct flavors, ranging from grassy, to spicy, pungent, bitter, sweet and nutty. Our most common way of eating it is sautéd with olive oil, garlic and tossed with ear shaped pasta topped by a generous amount of fine Parmesan. I think that orecchiette with broccoli rabe is probably one of my favorites. We’ve been eating this dish forever and I never find it boring.
I was excited by the idea of preparing broccoli rabe in a new way, and it got me thinking: how would it taste after going through the food processor? Would it get too bitter, or too squishy? Depending on how food is processed, sometimes one flavor prevails over the others, stealing that wholesomeness of scents, textures and tastes we identify with freshness. At times all the flavors are gone if the plant has volatile compounds. Try drinking a bottled juice and then eating the real fruit to see what I mean.
As for the broccoli rabe pesto, processing it made the flavor more mild. We liked it, so I’d guess you might, too. It tasted even better the following day.
I made this like basil pesto. Like with that recipe, you can use different nuts. I simply used what we had at home.
spaghetti with broccoli rabe pesto
1 bunch broccoli rabe, rinsed
1 cup packed baby spinach leaves, rinsed
2-3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup pepitas
6 Brazil nuts
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Kosher salt to taste
Crushed red pepper to taste
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
Juice of half lemon
1 lb spaghetti, prepared by package directions
Bring a pot with plenty of water to a boil. Cook broccoli for about 4 minutes or until al dente. Remove from heat to a bowl filled with ice water to blanche. Reserve hot water to cook pasta. Once cold, separate leaves and florets from stems. Squeeze as much water as possible from leaves and florets. Set aside.
Place pepitas and Brazil nuts on a skillet and lightly toast them for a few minutes. Add garlic, salt, pepper, pepitas and Brazil nut and half of the olive oil to food processor and spin it for a couple of minutes. Use a spatula to push the mixture down to bottom in order to grind everything evenly. Add spinach and broccoli rabe leaves and florets. Run food processor until it reaches desired consistency. Transfer to a bowl. Mix in cheese, remaining olive oil and lemon juice.
In a large bowl, fold spaghetti with about half of the broccoli rabe pesto and the stems. Save the rest of the pesto in the fridge in a small container covered with a layer of olive oil to prevent oxidation. Use within a couple of days.