Pesto Blasted Cruciferous Vegetables

About a month ago my wife and I met up with a friend for dinner at a restaurant over in the arts district of Charlotte. This is one of my favorite areas of town because it has tons of great restaurants, and, more importantly, several of the great microbreweries that have popped up over the last three years.

One of the appetizers at this particular restaurant was “blasted brussel sprouts” and both of my dinner companions were eager to try them. These sprouts were roasted, then tossed with an arugula and walnut pesto, which I thought was a solid way to make them more palatable.

Veggies and I have a very sordid history. It’s only been recently that I’ve started taking to certain vegetables, and most of the time I eat them reluctantly. However, since having these “blasted” veggies my food processor has been working over time making pesto. Coating cruciferous vegetables with essentially pureed vegetables is a flavorful revelation for someone that generally cannot stand them.

For some, cruciferous vegetables can taste quite bitter. To others, they are virtually tasteless. This is due to compounds in them that some are genetically inclined to taste, whereas others are not. I definitely fall into the majority who finds cruciferous vegetables, which include kale, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage amongst others, quite bitter unless roasted for a long time and flavored with other things. Like bacon.

Over the past few weeks I’ve made pesto blasted cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and broccoli for dinner and served them the likes of grilled chicken, pork cutlets, and pan seared New York strips. While the cauliflower has been my clear favorite, I’ve enjoyed eating all three. I’ve even gone back for seconds.

We haven’t had much traction in getting the kids to eat these, but my wife is happy that I’ve become more enthusiastic about eating vegetables at dinner time. Aside from setting a good example for my kids, cruciferous vegetables are considered to be quite healthy for you, as they are high in vitamin c, soluble fiber, and contain multiple nutrients and phytochemicals with potential anticancer properties.

Lastly, they are super easy to prepare. After washing and breaking down your cruciferous vegetable of choice, all you have to do is heat up a pan until it is super hot, add some canola or other neutral cooking oil that holds up well to high heat, caramelize them, season with a little salt and pepper, then turn down the heat and cook until they reach the doneness you desire. We tend to like ours on the crunchier side, so I cook them for about 15 to 20 minutes. Brussel sprouts need about 30 to 40.

Finally, after removing them from the heat, allow them to cool slightly in a bowl before spooning a few tablespoons of the arugula and walnut pesto, or a pesto of your choosing, on top and tossing until well coated. These pesto blasted cruciferous vegetables can be served with a number of different proteins, or some nice pan roasted potatoes if you’re trying to keep your meal vegetarian.

What is your favorite way to “hide” your vegetables to make them more palatable to eat?

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PJ Mullen is a stay at home dad, husband, amateur chef, craft beer enthusiast, prolific air drummer and the Stig in a minivan. Currently in between blogs, PJ has been littering the Internet with his drivel since 2006 when he started a wordpress.com account and blogged about a home renovation project. That proved to be a gateway drug to self-hosting where he went on to blog about football, his life as a stay at home dad and his culinary adventures. While he chooses a new domain to sully, he can be found here at Digital Dads writing about food and craft beer. He was a member of the Bumble Bee Foods "Bee Squad" from 2011 to 2012, contributed to Man of the House, was a member of the Shared Tastes Panel at Ready Set Eat, has worked with several brands including Sony, RedEnvelope, Conair, Lands End and Baby Brezza, and won the 2010 Perdue Verifiably Good Video Contest.

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