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Healthy Dish

Make This: Broccolini Pesto

Cool down those warm evenings with our light, versatile, and oh-so- pleasant pesto, featuring broccolini with lemon, olive oil, and other classic Mediterranean flavors

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So we all know how great broccoli is for you, but what do you know about broccolini? Here’s what I know: The first time I ate it, I thought, “This is like broccoli without the bitterness.” If you’ve never tried it, you’re in for a real treat. It’s still a cruciferous veggie, so it has all the nutritional benefits of that particular class of vegetable royalty-but the flavor is milder. Although often called baby broccoli, broccolini is technically a hybrid of regular broccoli and Chinese broccoli.

Broccolini also tastes great raw and makes a nice alternative to heavier foods in the warm weather of early summer. And it works perfectly in Chef Jeannette’s fresh-flavored take on traditional pesto. This lighter version has fewer calories than traditional pesto, plus it’s packed with nutritional extras. Broccolini (and broccoli) is rich in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as calcium, potassium, magnesium, and glucosinolates (which help rid the body of toxins). The garlic, with all its medicinal benefits, adds a nice touch, and the olive oil and feta make this a perfect Mediterranean-style sauce.
-Dr. Jonny

Broccolini Pesto

Makes 1½ cups
Try this pesto tossed with zucchini pasta for a light entrée; as a party dip for veggie crudités; or as a spread for breads and crackers. Omit the feta if you prefer a dairy-free version.

2/3 cup toasted whole almonds (see “Notes from Chef Jeanette”)

2 small bunches broccolini, coarsely chopped

½ cup packed fresh basil leaves

2-3 cloves garlic, crushed, to taste

Juice of ½ lemon

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ tsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Sea salt, to taste

  1. Place almonds in food processor, and pulse several times to break them up. Add broccolini, basil, and garlic, and pulse a few more times.
  2. Add lemon juice, olive oil, and red pepper flakes, and process until nearly smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. Add more lemon juice or olive oil if mixture is too dry.
  3. Stir in the feta, season to taste with the salt, and mix gently but thoroughly. Store in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

per 1-tbs. serving: 62 cal; 2g pro; 6g total fat (1g sat fat); 2g carb; 2mg chol; 28mg sod; 1g fiber; 1g sugars

Notes from: Chef Jeannette

Home-toasted almonds taste much nuttier and fresher than pre-roasted. To toast raw, whole almonds: Preheat your oven (or toaster oven) to 350°F. Spread almonds out in a shallow baking dish, and bake for about 12 minutes or until they’re fragrant and lightly browned-watch carefully to prevent scorching. Remove and cool for at least 15 minutes before adding to the pesto.

Photo: Pornchai mittongtare; prop Styling: robin turk; food Styling: Liesl maggiore

Jeannette Bessinger, CHHC, is a certified holistic health counselor and recipe developer. Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, is a nationally known health, nutrition, and weight-loss expert. Bessinger and Bowden have collaborated on numerous cookbooks, including The 150 Healthiest Slow Cooker Recipes. Visit them online at and