Pesto is one of my favorite sauces — I love it on pasta, crostini, pizza and on a spoon, straight out of the food processor after I’ve made a batch. Classic pesto is made from bunches of fresh basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts and olive oil, but since basil won’t be in season for a few months, the basil selection in the supermarket is a little grim. It’s more expensive and only available in small quantities, so I usually suffer through the winter without it. But here’s what I just figured out: Pesto doesn’t have to be made with just basil. This verdant sauce can be made with other herbs, like parsley or cilantro, so as soon as those roll into markets and sprout up in the garden try making pesto with a green herb other than basil.
During the winter months, when cruciferous vegetables are in season, grab a bunch of broccoli and make pesto out of that. Bobby Deen’s Broccoli Pesto recipe calls for just a handful of basil, plus cheese, nuts, garlic and olive oil, so it will have the bright color and flavor you’re used to. Toss the sauce with sun-dried tomatoes (packed in water if you can find them — this cuts down on the oil/fat) and whole-wheat pasta for a hearty tastes-almost-like-summer meal you can make all year. Bonus: Broccoli is loaded with cancer-fighting plant chemicals (so have an extra serving!).