Roasted Broccoli Pesto

Roasted Broccoli Pesto
When I was a kid if you told me that I would like broccoli when I grew up, I wouldn’t have believed you. The extent of my veggie consumption in my youth was raw carrot sticks. (Potatoes don’t count.) Maybe that’s why I’m not overly concerned that my son isn’t so keen on eating his greens. I have to remind myself to be patient and wait.

With a few heads of broccoli at home, I decided to turn that produce into a sauce of sorts for pasta. I made roasted broccoli pesto. It turned out chunkier than the classic basil version, but I used a little pasta water to loosen it up as I tossed it into a bowl of orecchiette. I loved how the ear-shaped pasta scooped up the nutty broccoli.
Roasted Broccoli Pesto
Roasted Broccoli Pesto

1 pound broccoli, trimmed and cut into florets
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Toss the broccoli with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper on a sheet pan. Roast for 20-25 minutes until tender and just starting to brown at the edges.

Mince the garlic clove in the bowl of a food processor. Add the broccoli, remaining salt & pepper, pine nuts, Parmesan and lemon juice and puree. With the motor running, pour in the remaining olive oil.

When stirring the pesto into pasta, you may need to thin it out with some cooking water from the pasta.

Cherry Cashew Bars

Cherry Cashew Bars
My purse is pretty much a travelling pantry. At any moment you can find an apple, crackers, toast and even a waffle buried in the bottom of my bag. Part of the reason for the nomadic smorgasbord is my son, who inherited my snacking gene. I’m not sure that’s a good thing because like his mom, he can get hangry even before his stomach starts growling.

To add a little variety to my snacking routine, I made a from-scratch version of one of those packaged mixed nut bars. To finish off these cherry cashew bars, I drizzled them with bittersweet chocolate and sprinkled them with flaky sea salt. They only took a few minutes to prep, and with their infinite variations, these might be by new favorite snack.
Cherry Cashew Bars
Cherry Cashew Bars

Makes 12 bars

Non-stick cooking spray
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup puffed rice cereal
1/2 cup dried tart cherries, roughly chopped
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/3 cup brown rice syrup

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and grease with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine the cashews, almonds, puffed rice cereal, dried cherries, sunflower seeds and coconut flakes. Stir in the brown rice syrup. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan. Press down into an even layer by covering with waxed paper and using the bottom of a glass.

Bake for 18-20 minutes until the nuts are well toasted. Cool completely before cutting into 12 bars.

Store in an airtight container.

Roasted Carrot Salad

Roasted Carrot Salad
The holidays were gone in a flash, and now I’m back to more thoughtful eating. The get-togethers with family and friends brought fun, laughter and a lot mindless snacking. I consumed more crackers and cubes of cheese than I can remember, and the entire time I was craving vegetables, especially anything green.

Yesterday I made a roasted carrot salad with spinach and plenty of the crunchy extras essential for a good filling salad. I tossed the carrots with the usual olive oil, salt, and pepper, plus cumin seeds. The salad was finished with pomegranate seeds, sunflower seeds, pistachios, chives, cilantro and sherry vinaigrette.
Roasted Carrot Salad
Roasted Carrot Salad

Serves 4

For salad
2 pounds carrots, trimmed and cut into diagonal 2-inch pieces (halved if thick)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
5 ounces baby spinach
1 pomegranate, seeded
1/4 teaspoon sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chopped pistachios
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 handful cilantro, roughly chopped

For vinaigrette
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Toss the carrots with olive oil, cumin seeds, salt and pepper and spread into a single layer on a sheet pan. Roast for 40-45 minutes until the carrots start to brown at the edges and are tender in the middle.

For the vinaigrette, whisk together the sherry vinegar, salt, pepper and olive oil.

In a large bowl, combine the carrots, spinach, pomegranate seeds, sunflower seeds, pistachios, chives and cilantro. Toss with the vinaigrette before serving.

Sriracha Lime Chickpeas

Sriracha Lime Chickpeas
I saw a photo of my son at school along with his classmates sitting at a table diligently writing with crayons on white paper. The caption said they were coming up with resolutions for 2017. I thought that was kind of funny considering they are only three years old. At home I asked him what he was planning to work on in the new year. His response was to play with more trains.

It took me a few minutes to realize that was a legitimate New Year’s resolution—to spend time doing what you love. Diving headfirst into a passion is more likely to stick than an unrealistic exercise regimen, and it might make you more happy. I have a laundry list of things I would like to improve, but I am going to take my son’s advice and focus on what brings me delight.

While I can’t guarantee that I will be awake at midnight, we will be snacking on all sorts of nibbles at our house tomorrow evening including these oven-roasted sriracha lime chickpeas. They are crispy, a little bit spicy and go well with cocktails and champagne. Wishing everyone the best in 2017!

Sriracha Lime Chickpeas
Sriracha Lime Chickpeas

Makes about 2 cups

2-15 ounce cans chickpeas
1 heaping tablespoon sriracha
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon black pepper plus more for serving
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Pat them dry with paper towels. Remove any loose outer skins from the chickpeas.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sriracha, lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Transfer the chickpeas to the prepared sheet pan and toss with the sriracha-lime mixture. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes until crisp and browned, gently shaking the pan about halfway through cooking. Sprinkle with cilantro and additional salt and pepper before serving.

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