Man, have I been in a dinner rut lately. Anyone else? I think it's the time of year: I'm mentally done with winter, but spring is still teasingly out of reach. And I don't want to put down any groundhogs with regard to weather predictions, but I'm not sure I agree with their scientific method.
Happily, I came across some frozen broccoli rabe pesto I made with last year's CSA bounty from Waltham Fields. I'm a big proponent of making pesto out of any and all green things: basil, mint, parsley, cilantro, garlic scapes, garlic mustard growing wild in our yard. However, broccoli rabe had not been a pesto ingredient in our kitchen until last year, when I saw a recipe in Food & Wine's cookbook Reinventing the Classics. It's a cookbook I'm really enjoying and will likely reference again--lots of sprightly seasonal dishes as well as some good recipes for the shiitakes I grow. The recipe for delicata squash stuffed with quinoa salad was a particularly good find, and you know I have little patience for squash and/or quinoa.
I'm happy to have another use for broccoli rabe since it's one of my favorite greens (I say greens because the kind I get from my CSA tends to be leafy and short on florets). This pesto was delicious the first time around with prosciutto and ricotta ravioli from DePasquale's Pasta Shoppe in the North End. It was also super tasty the second time around on thin spaghetti with sweet Italian sausages from the unrelated DePasquale's sausage shop in Newton and some broccolini of unknown origin. (If your kid sees broccolini in the store and wants some because he likes the name, well, by god, buy the broccolini!!!) Earthy and bright, this pesto was a little bit of summer sunshine after what I hope will be the last snowfall of the winter.
Broccoli Rabe Pesto
1/3 cup walnuts
1/2 lb. broccoli rabe, trimmed
1 garlic clove
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. olive oil
Pinch crushed red pepper
1/3 cup Pecorino
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread walnuts in a pie plate and toast for 8 minutes until golden and fragrant (or toast them in a dry pan over low heat, tossing frequently, about 4-5 minutes). Let cool.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the broccoli rabe until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and let cool under cold water. Squeeze out excess water and coarsely chop.
In a food processor, mince garlic. Add walnuts and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add broccoli rabe and crushed pepper and process until finely chopped while adding oil slowly through the feed tube. Add 1/3 cup Pecorino and pulse until just combined. Scrape into bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Freeze or serve by boiling 3/4 to 1 lb. pasta in salted water. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup of the pasta water. Toss pasta with pesto and reserved water until well coated.
Source: Adapted from Reinventing the Classics by Dana Cowin and the editors of Food & Wine.