Lobster with Broccoli Rabe Pesto

I love making pesto, other than the classic pesto. According to a NYTimes article from 2015, the large consumption of pine nuts is damaging the environment. The rising global demand for pesto has prompted unsustainable nut harvests in many regions, such as Russia and Korea. Is it worth it? No, I don’t think so. As for the basil component of pesto, although I do love a freshly-made classic pesto “alla Genovese”, it’s been-there-done-that for me. I enjoy making other pestos, substituting other greens, such as broccoli rabe or stinging nettle or even nasturtium, and substituting other nuts, such as almonds, cashews, pistachios, and even walnuts! It’s better for the environment and also, it’s cheaper too. Pine nuts are ridiculously expensive!

Here is Lobster Knuckle and Claw with Heirloom Tomatoes, a Broccoli Rabe Pesto, and Micro Thai Basil.

Recipe: Broccoli Rabe Pesto

Classic pesto sauce originated from Genoa, Italy. It consists of a blend of basil, garlic, olive oil, grated hard cheese, and pine nuts. Everyone has their own way of making pesto but it’s generally the same ratio of ingredients.

In the restaurant, I usually make double the following ratios (in the parentheses):

  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe (1)
  • Walnuts, toasted (½)
  • Pine nuts, toasted (½)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (1)
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (¼)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 boquerones (Spanish white anchovies)
  • 2 garlic cloves, microplaned
  • 1 lemon, microplaned
  • Salt

For the broccoli rabe, wash it well if dirty. Cut off the thick fibrous ends of the vegetable. In a pot of salted boiling water, blanch for 30 seconds and shock in iced water.

Once cool and drained from water, wring the broccoli rabe in a towel or rag to release as much water as possible. On a kitchen scale, measure the weight of the broccoli rabe. It’ll be easier to blend in the food processor if you chop the broccoli rabe first, just a few chops.

In the bowl of the food processor, place the broccoli rabe in first, then the walnuts and pine nuts. Turn the food processor on and add in the EVOO in a steady stream to emulsify the sauce. Add in the freshly grated parmesan, red pepper flakes, boquerones, and microplane the 2 cloves of garlic into the pesto. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt if necessary. Lastly, microplane lemon zest into the pesto and pulse a little more. Add more EVOO to desired consistency.

You can freeze the pesto if you aren’t going to use all of it within a few days because it will oxidize – taste the same but just look ugly.

Sample dishes:

Burrata with Broccoli Rabe Pesto

I LOVE BURRATA!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE BURRATA!

Did I mention how much I love burrata? I LOVE BURRRRRRRATAAAAAA!!!!

I know other people love burrata too.

I served this dish right when spring began. This is fresh Burrata cheese from Murray’s Cheeses with a Broccoli Rabe Pesto over toasted Filone sourdough, Confetti Cherry Heirloom Tomatoes, Aged Apple Vinegar, and Micro Basil.

Spaghetti with Lovage Pesto

Lovage. Also known as fake celery. It has a celery-like flavor but it’s not celery, it’s lovage. Why can’t we call it celery 2.0? That’s English for you.

Anyway, you wouldn’t be able to make celery pesto but you can make it with lovage. It’s a refreshing bright bite of spring!

I made this Housemade Spaghetti in Lovage Pesto with Fava Beans, English Peas, and Pumpernickel Soil.

Cuttlefish “Noodles” with Nori Pesto

This has to be one of my most innovative dishes using modernist cuisine methods. I sous vide the cuttlefish, rolled it up tightly, froze it, and then shaved it on a meat slicer.

I served the Cuttlefish “Noodles” with a Nori Pesto, Crispy Quinoa, and fresh Mezza Mâche. The overall taste was quite “Asian” with the texture of the noodles and the consistency of the nori pesto. But it was delicious, as an appetizer.

*Also, this is the dish that I chose for my homepage.

Octopus & Cashew Pesto

I usually don’t put octopus on the tasting menu because it’s difficult to portion without painstakingly weighing each piece and then dividing it. Who gets the thicker end of the tentacle and who gets the thinner tip?

This dish was created for the tasting menu because I needed another seafood entry and a game I like to play with myself called “Chopped – Degu Version”. I ended up with a piece of Crisp Octopus on Cashew Pesto, with Pickled Red Onions and Citrus Microgreens.