Meatless Monday: Hip Hip Hooray for Mario Batali! – and featuring his fabulous Broccoli Rabe Pesto, budget-friendly style

May 10, 2010 in Healthy Fare, Side Dishes, Vegetarian Entrees

Iron Chef Mario Batali’s rock-star signature dishes often include meat-lover’s ingredients like veal shanks and bone marrow. Needless to say, we were surprised and thrilled at the announcement that Chef Batali is going meatless on Mondays!

“The fact is, most people in the U.S. eat way more meat than is good for them or the planet,” said Batali. “Asking everyone to go vegetarian or vegan isn’t a realistic or attainable goal. But we can focus on a more plant-based diet. That’s why I’m such a big believer in the Meatless Monday movement!” Batali announced last week that he will feature several vegetarian entrees in all his restaurants on Mondays.

To applaud his efforts, I made up a huge batch of his Broccoli Rabe Pesto and tossed it with orchiette pasta.

I have never eaten broccoli rabe, and have never seen it in my local grocery stores. I understand the taste is similar to broccoli with a more bitter taste. I als0 understand it is very expensive. I made a more budget-friendly version by using regular broccoli with some Balsamic vinegar to give it some tang.

For this recipe I also substituted toasted walnuts for the pine nuts to save money and discovered that broccoli and walnuts are a fabulous flavor combination. As Chef Batali would say: “Perfecto!”

MARIO BATALI’S BROCCOLI RABE PESTO (slightly tweaked)

Total time 10 minutes. Makes about 4 cups of pesto.

1/2 pound broccoli rabe (or immature broccoli stalks)
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 cup pine nuts (or toasted diced walnuts)
2 tablespoons diced Italian parsley
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more as needed
Salt and pepper to taste

Roughly chop broccoli rabe and then boil in salted water for 5 minutes. Place in food processor with all remaining ingredients except oil and process until in very small pieces. Slowly stream in oil  until pesto reaches the right consistency. Makes about 4 cups of pesto.

Other must-try adventurous pestos by food bloggers:
Asparagus Pesto, Simply Recipes
Ramp Pesto, No Recipes
Pistachio Asparagus Pesto, Serious Eats
Sun Dried Tomato Pesto, Kalyn’s Kitchen
Roasted Pepper Pesto, The Perfect Pantry
Walnut Pesto
, Smitten Kitchen

– posted by Donna

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