Raw broccoli and courgette pesto, 17p (NUT-FREE) (VEGAN)

Here greeny greeny greeny greeny things... And kids, if you're reading this in years to come, I told you I was smarter than you...

Here greeny greeny greeny greeny things… And kids, if you’re reading this in years to come, I told you I was smarter than you…

So, the two delightful four year olds in residency have both announced recently that they ‘don’t want school dinners any more’ ‘because they make us eat lots of VEGETABLES.’ News to me, this one, as they have both been fairly consistently good Vegetable Eaters throughout their childhood – albeit *different vegetables*, which means we have a list stuck to the front of the fridge to remind us that one of them will happily nosh on peppers but not peas, and the other one likes carrots and broccoli and ‘sometimes’ cauliflower. One thing they are both very sold on, however, is broccoli. And pesto.

So, I opened my fridge this evening to mull over the tired scrappy bits in the vegetable drawer, and found exactly 67g of drying, wilting -broccoli. (I’ve rounded it up to a round 100g in the recipe, as I don’t expect anybody to weigh out 67g of anything!) The sneaky mum in me decided to ‘extend’ it into something I could pass off as ‘broccoli pesto’ – and here we are. And kids, if you’re reading this in a few years time, I told you I was smarter than you.

It’s only raw by virtue of laziness – there was a small someone-treading-on-my-broken-toe incident over the weekend and thus my recovery has been unceremoniously flung back to what feels like square one. Today I have mostly been working from my duvet. You can steam or saute or boil and cool the component parts if you like, but, licking the bowl as I type this is testament to the fact that you just don’t have to. I proffered a spoonful to my small boy, told him it was ‘broccoli sauce’, and he demolished it. Win all round.

Makes enough for six bellies at 17p each* – I split mine into three pots of ‘kids plus a snack for me’.

100g broccoli, stems and all, 14p
250g courgette, 50p
50g spinach, fresh or frozen and defrosted (up to you whether to refreeze it if using defrosted spinach, I’ve been doing it for years with veg and never caught vegetable lurgies, but health and safety scaremongerers abound…), 7p
100g bread, stale or otherwise, 13p (or 7p for two white pittas) – to give it that nutty texture that’s so great about pesto, without any actual nuts
100ml oil (I used sunflower), 13p
30ml lemon juice – the bottled variety is fine, 6p

The adults might like to add a clove or two of garlic and a pinch of salt, and non-vegans might want to lob in a load of hard strong grated cheese, but it’s perfectly delicious the way it is…

Finely shop your broccoli and courgette, and roughly chop your spinach. Tear up your bread, and put the whole lot in the blender – pulse until it resembles a pesto. The wetness of the courgette should help it along, but if your blender is struggling, add the oil and lemon juice, and if it’s still struggling, a small slosh of water. The breadcrumbs will soak the liquid up anyway.

Divide into jars or containers and store one in the fridge and one in the freezer for a cheat dinner for a later date. Serve over hot pasta, and enjoy.

If you’re seriously suspicious about your kids eating ‘raw’ veg, then you can tip this into a pan and cook it off for a few minutes before tipping it over their pasta – but I find a good grating of cheese goes a long way in getting kids to eat anything (vegan cheese for vegans, obviously, and not so much for everyone else).

And enjoy! You can play with the vegetables, and veg proportions – I just include enough broccoli to pass mine off as ‘broccoli sauce’ – and the Smalls are none the wiser. Hoorah for a penchant for pesto, in my household at least…

* Prices are worked out at Sainsburys because that’s where I currently shop, but things like courgettes and broccoli are widely sold in many other places for similar prices. If you happen to find them ludicrously cheaper, please comment below as I’m sure my readers would love to know where the bargains are. Prices are also subject to change but are correct at the time of blogging. I worked them out like this:

Loose broccoli £1.35/kg. Frozen broccoli £1.40/kg but more florets than stems, so use what you prefer. Loose courgettes 20p/100g – am very cross that the Basic courgettes appear to have vanished as they were once a staple on my very low budget and I based a lot of my early recipes around them! I digress. Frozen spinach £1.40/kg. Giraffe bread £1/800g loaf. Basics pitta breads 22p/6. Sunflower oil £4/3l. Bottled lemon juice 50p/250ml.

Jack Monroe. You can follow me on Twitter (www.twitter.com/msjackmonroe) and Instagram (www.instagram.com/msjackmonroe) if you like, and find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

…and if you enjoy my recipes, you might like one of my books – I like to direct people to the Hive, as they deliver to your local independent book store, or your house. They’re available in other places too, but I think the Hive is just great: http://www.hive.co.uk/by/jack-monroe/21868634/


    • Jack,i absolutely love your recipes,not much of a cook,but ive made a few of your veggy and vegan recipes ,like the muffins and the pappa pomadoro,and im going to try the brocolli pesto next .thank you so much,pam xxx

  1. Love the ‘finely shop[ped]’ veg… but even our invaluable street market doesn’t sell courgettes at as little as 20p/kilo! More like three for a pound, in this midwinter, almost courgette-free season.

    “Anything as long as it’s pesto” – a good new mantra for winter cooking?

  2. Hi jack, nothing to do with this receipe… Can I use chickpea butter to make hummus instead of (yucky) peanut butter?

  3. Another delicious, imaginative recipe.
    Have just enjoyed the Oh so creamy canelli sauce.’ Do keep the recipes coming and I hope the foot recovers quickly as poss, despite small, but caring saboteurs.
    I have both the books and they are excellent and consulted constantly.

  4. Thank you, we don’t have little ones at home anymore but live on a very small budget! Your recipes are wonderful and I will definitely been trying this one.

  5. Thank you Jack, great idea- my 2 yr old loves garlicky pesto too but not keen on broccoli – will have to try that.

  6. I have only just discovered your blog, but have already purchased your first book.
    I am a vegetarian pensioner, living on a very restricted budget, so your recipes have proved to be a godsend to me. Although I know they are aimed at families, they are brilliant for anyone on a limited budget.

  7. I usually put a squeeze of lemon juice in any pesto for freezing,it keeps its brilliant colour. Sorry about your toe. I broke mine,years ago,just stretching to reach a blackberry for a small person! It hurts doesn’t it? Stay off it as much as poss.

  8. I just discovered your book and blog this week. Oh my I have learned so much! I read the Feeding Britain report and feel so much more informed about the issues people are facing, so thank you for shining a light on this area and making one more person a little bit more aware! Also I love your recipes and feel so excited by the money I know I can save for my family. What a fabulous woman you are!

  9. Made for my fussy four year old and not so fussy six year old and they ate all of it!! I’m gobsmacked!!! I’m SO pleased because we love pesto (for a quick dinner) but recently all supermarket ones changed recipes and now contain cashew nuts instead of pine nuts and Hubs is allergic!
    I had to share as my son ate green food! I’m feeling epic! 😀 😀 x

  10. Jack, as a student with not a lot of money at the moment and a massive amount of rent to pay just before Christmas, I have to say you are my hero, these recipes have rescued me.

    Also, you’re a huge inspiration, you’re fab, your politics, drive, integrity, is all so amazing. Keep it up (please).

  11. I made this just now, but since my courgette is destined for a different fate this week, I put peas in instead, and a small clove of garlic, and it seems to have turned into guacamole! Eating it right now with the remainder of the pitta bread that didn’t go into making it, and its amazing! I can’t wait to try more of your recipes.

  12. Ridley Road market is stupidly cheap for vegetables…it’s the only way I can afford to be raw vegan in London! x

  13. Nutritional yeast works well for vegan cheesy flavour (and also works as as a sauce thickener) so I might sling some of that in too 🙂

  14. If you’re stuck for spinach, stingy nettles will do nicely, too, and they come free. If you’re worried about the stinging (which they shouldn’t do once blended), blanch them in boiling water. They can be frozen just like spinach, are just as healthy. I’ve made nettle pesto and loved it!

  15. Yum! I’m a vegetarian and was distraught to find out that my go to food is not veggie friendly ( the hard cheeses that are usually used in pesto contain rennet) so I am all about this.

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