This dish contains no cheese and no gluten, making it friendly for vegans and celiacs while providing the kind of flavor that will satisfy any vegetable lover. Look for medium noodles – sometimes labeled rice sticks, rice fettuccine or banh pho – and if you can find them made from brown rice, all the better.
Rice Noodles with Broccoli Pesto
1 head broccoli (about 1 pound)
∑ cup sliced toasted almonds, plus more for garnish (see note)
¼ cup packed fresh basil leaves, plus several small leaves for garnish
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
∑ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces medium rice noodles, preferably brown rice noodles
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
Cut the broccoli into florets and thinly slice the stems (no peeling needed). Add the florets and stems to the water; cook until bright green and barely tender, about 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the broccoli to a bowl, reserving the cooking water for the rice noodles. Season the vegetable with salt and let it cool slightly.
Coarsely chop 1 cup of the blanched florets. Add the remaining florets and stems to the bowl of a food processor along with the almonds, basil, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Puree to form a smooth pesto. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Return the cooking water to a boil. Add the rice noodles and cook according to the package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the noodles, rinse them in cold water, and return them to the pot (off the heat). Toss with the pesto to coat evenly, adding enough of the reserved water to create a creamy sauce.
Divide among individual bowls; top each portion with the reserved chopped broccoli florets, small basil leaves and sliced almonds. Grind pepper on top and serve. Serves 4.
Notes: Toast the almonds in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat until lightly browned and fragrant. Cool before using.
The pesto can be refrigerated for up to three days.
– Adapted from “Meatless: More Than 200 of the Very Best Vegetarian Recipes,” from the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living (Clarkson Potter, 2013).