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.

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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.

Broccoli Pesto

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:
43 calories
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