Pesto broccoli rice is a healthy side dish that features the bold flavors of fresh basil, garlic, and Parmesan to make the perfect pairing to chicken, fish, and more. Its light and fluffy texture makes it comparable to traditional rice, but in a lower calorie and low carb version.
Broccoli. Not much to say about broccoli, is there? It’s a healthy cruciferous vegetable that has a rep for not being that exciting. Except for that one night, when my college housemate microwave steamed a ton of broccoli approximately ten minutes before a bunch of people were coming over.
Picture us all running around the house opening windows and lighting scented candles to try and minimize that…unpleasant scent. Eeesh.
That memory stuck with me for awhile so broccoli went on the back burner as a veggie side dish for quite some time. But now it’s back! It’s just fine steamed (just preferably not before hosting a ton of people), but I like to jazz it up in different ways – like with this pesto broccoli rice.
I’ve talked a lot about cauliflower rice – from parmesan pesto cauliflower rice to ginger turmeric cauliflower rice – but have been toying around with the idea of broccoli rice for awhile. Broccoli and cauliflower are relatively similar vegetables, with nutritious florets that lend themselves to a whole host of different recipes, so why wouldn’t a head of broccoli work just like a head of cauliflower in an alternative rice recipe?
Not so surprisingly, it does! This broccoli rice is sauteed to reduce some of the raw cruciferous veggie flavor and ends up light and fluffy just like my favorite cauliflower rice recipes. Plus there’s pesto, and who doesn’t love that? 🙂
One thing I love about this pesto broccoli rice is that the pesto component blends right into the green color of the broccoli. I’m thinking this recipe would be a good one for trying to sneak broccoli past picky eaters. It’s not in its typical floret shape, and its green hue can be (deliciously) blamed on basil pesto. That’s a win-win in my book.
- Much like with cauliflower rice, this broccoli rice isn’t an exact dupe of rice. Rather it’s a healthier side dish option with a texture that’s not far off from rice.
- You’ll still be able to taste some of the broccoli flavor come through, but the pesto certainly helps mask it. Once the pesto has been combined with the broccoli, take a taste and add additional seasonings to make it to your liking.
- I like to serve this pesto broccoli rice with grilled chicken and fish, but the sky’s the limit.
Pesto Broccoli Rice
- 1 head of broccoli
- 5 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 tbsp walnuts or pine nuts or almonds
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 6 tbsp grated Parmesan, divided
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- Cut florets from the head of broccoli and place in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the broccoli florets are broken up into tiny pieces resembling rice, and then add riced broccoli to a large mixing bowl. Repeat this step in batches until all of the broccoli is pulsed. Wipe out food processor to use later on.
- Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a large skillet set over medium heat. Add broccoli rice and stir. Cover the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring until the broccoli has softened a bit. Remove the skillet from the heat.
- Add basil leaves, remaining 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) olive oil, nuts, garlic, 2 tbsp Parmesan, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to the food processor and pulse until the basil and nuts are broken up into small pieces and the ingredients are combined.
- Fold the basil mixture and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan into the sauteed broccoli rice. Season with additional salt, pepper, lemon juice, Parmesan, etc. to your taste.