Broccoli Stem Pesto


I hate wasting food.  Whenever I cook broccoli I am always trying to find a use for the stems because most people just like to eat the florets.  The stems account for such a large portion of the weight which makes it a large portion of the cost as well.  I have mentioned before that I use broccoli stems in my dog’s food in this post: Root to Stem: Making the Most Food for your Money.  Sometimes I have too many stems to use for the dog so I wanted to find another use.  One of my readers suggested looking into a pesto that could be made from broccoli stems.  I did some research, tried a few things and came up with this recipe. This recipe comes out very nicely, light and refreshing.  I actually put some on top of scrambled eggs, or chicken breasts, since we don’t eat much pasta.

Broccoli Stem Pesto
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

  • 2-3 broccoli stems (you can mix in a cauliflower stem as well)
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 cup of fresh or frozen spinach
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Organic Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp dried basil

Cut off the ends of the broccoli stems and remove all branches. Remove the tough fibrous outside layer of the stem. The inside should be a very light green color. Dice the stems into smaller pieces.  Steam the stems in a small amount of water for around 10 minutes.

Add the broccoli stems, cashews, garlic, basil and spinach to a food processor. Once it is chopped, the balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil through the top. Let mix until a paste forms. If you like a thinner sauce add olive oil or vegetable stock (try this Homemade Crock Pot Vegetable Broth.)

What are your favorite uses for broccoli stems?

This post was shared in Simple Lives Thursday.

Root to Stem: Making the Most Food for Your Money


As I was chopping up a head of broccoli today for a tray of roasted vegetables I noticed how much stem I had leftover at the end that I would typically throw away.  I really hate to throw away food.  It seems like such a waste of money to throw out any part of a vegetable or any other food.  I don’t know if this head of broccoli had a larger stem then usual or it was just the way I cut it but there was a good amount of stem left which was why I took notice and it made me think.  Why would I throw this out if I could find another use?

Using all parts of a vegetable or animal stretches your dollar further.  I spent the day cooking and made a lot of food but didn’t spend a lot on the groceries and supplies. Here is what I bought:

  • 1 bag of black beans $1.59
  • 1 bag of lentils $1.00
  • 1 lb ground beef $6.92
  • 2 lbs chicken thighs $6.33
  • 5 lb whole chicken $9.81
  • 1 can diced tomatoes $2.19
  • Broccoli $4.40
  • Garlic $0.50
  • Celery $3.60
  • 1 lb carrots $1.29
  • Cauliflower $3.99
  • 3 small onions $1.89
  • Total: $43.51

The night before I planned to do my cooking I filled a stock pot with water and all of the chicken thighs with 2 tbs of apple cider vinegar and left the stove top on low overnight.  Also, left soaking 2 cups of lentils and 1 cup of black beans.  The following day I did the rest of the cooking and put everything into glass storage containers.  The amount of food I ended up with was enough for 3-4 days of lunches and dinners plus a week’s food for the dog.  Not bad for $43 bucks.  The soup and stock can easily be frozen to have later on if we get tired of it.  Here is what I made:

  • 5 large mason jars of Chicken & Lentil Soup
  • a medium square pyrex container of sliced chicken breast, 2 legs, and 2 wings
  • a small round pyrex of chicken gravy
  • a large square pyrex container of roasted broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and onions
  • a medium pyrex container of black beans and tomatoes
  • 4 large mason jars of chicken bone broth – see post: How to Make Bone Broth
  • 1 week’s worth of dog food

This is how I did it…

  1. The chicken simmering from the night before I used to make the chicken and lentil soup by adding the 2 cups of soaking lentils plus 3 diced carrots and 5 diced stalks of celery and 1 clove of garlic.  Removed all chicken bones and skin and set aside.
  2. The whole chicken was roasted in the oven for 2 hours, sliced all the meat off and removed the legs and wings.  Carcass was set aside (do not throw away).
  3. Place all the bones leftover from the first pot of chicken stock and the carcass from the whole chicken into a stock pot of water and simmer for 24 hours for the bone broth.
  4. Chop broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and onions and put into a large glass baking tray, add spices and olive oil.  Roast for 45 minutes at 425 degrees.  Dice all stems and set aside.
  5. Use the drippings from the whole chicken to make gravy by adding a few tablespoons of gluten free flour.
  6. Boil the black beans until cooked.  Saute with a can of diced tomatoes and desired spices. (this is a great side dish, even for breakfast with your eggs.)
  7. Lightly steam the diced vegetable stems and peels, add the ground beef and cook until browned.  Put into a container for the dog food. (Meat can be left raw as well, I do both cooked and raw dog food)

If you don’t have a dog, or don’t make your own dog food you can use the same things to make a vegetable stock for other soups, stews, or sauces.

This amount of food was possible because I didn’t throw out anything, all parts of every food was used once and sometimes twice.  This might sound like a lot of cooking but it actually didn’t take as much time as you would think.  I did all of this while taking care of my daughter – feeding her, playing with her, and giving her a bath – it was doable.  The great thing is that now I don’t have to do much cooking for a couple of days except for a few small additions and reheating.

Do you try to use all parts of your food to make the money go further?  What is your favorite way to do this?  Please share in the comments below!

Another great post on a similar topic is on the Institute for Integrative Nutition Blog.

This post was shared at Simple Lives Thursday.