Should you eat broccoli every day? It is a powerhouse vegetable, so it would be a health-savvy thing to do. But alternating it with other cruciferous veggies like cauliflower, cabbage, kale, collard greens and Brussels sprouts assures a wider assortment of the health-protective phytochemicals that make this family of vegetables so valuable.
Even so, I love a culinary challenge, which is why I decided to eat broccoli every day for a week, but in a different form each time. I made a soup, a stir-fry, a casserole, a salad, a quesadilla, a drink and a dip.
For the soup, on a hot day I tossed a cup of broccoli florets into the pot while making the classic cold soup, vichyssoise. The result was pale green, creamy and refreshing.
The stir-fry combined sweet red pepper, black beans and shiitake mushrooms with a bottled peanut sauce I had on hand. For the casserole, I added frozen broccoli to my favorite tuna-noodle casserole, making it a more complete one-dish meal.
After these dishes, I wanted to be more creative. For a salad, I started with canned salmon and added generous amounts of finely-chopped raw vegetables including broccoli, celery, green pepper, parsley, scallions and red onion plus lemon juice and olive oil. This succulent salad was so good that I still make it.
On the fourth day, not wanting to see broccoli again, I sneaked some chopped steamed broccoli into a corn-and-mushroom quesadilla. It was good, and I was glad that I could barely taste the broccoli. The next day, using my juicer, I made a vitamin-rich cocktail by pureeing spinach, celery, cucumber, parsley and broccoli stems; then added both pineapple and lime juices. It was emerald green and delicious.
For the last day, I created this Broccoli Pesto for a dip, but it is thick enough to be spread on crostini. It is also excellent mixed with warm whole-wheat pasta or brown rice.
Broccoli proved so versatile that I repeated this exercise with other foods. The results led to my most recent book, 12 Best Foods Cookbook.
Makes 1 cup of pesto, enough for 8-12 crostini or as a dip with sliced raw vegetables such as carrots and red, orange, or yellow bell peppers.
- 2 cups broccoli florets, stem removed
- 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 cup basil leaves, lightly packed
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3-4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Salt, if desired
- Place the broccoli, garlic, basil and nuts in a food processor or blender. Add 4 or 5 grinds of pepper. Puree until the broccoli is finely ground but still grainy.
- With the motor running, drizzle in just enough of the oil to make the mixture spreadable and soft enough to use as a dip. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and blend 15 seconds longer. Transfer the pesto to a bowl.
- Mix in the cheese and season to taste with salt, if desired. Cover tightly and refrigerate 2 hours before serving to allow the flavors to meld. This pesto keeps up to 2 days if stored tightly covered in the refrigerator.
- To use with crostini, spread 1 to 2 tablespoons pesto on each slice of grilled or toasted bread (preferably whole-wheat Italian).
Nutritional Info Per (1 tbsp.) Serving:
4 g. total fat (less than 1 g. saturated fat)
Less than 1 g. carbohydrate
1 g. protein
less than 1 g. dietary fiber
22 mg. sodium
Diabetic Exchanges: 1 Vegetable, 1/4 Medium-fat Meat