Weeknight Vegetarian: Turning broccoli into a vegan pesto

I try to buy produce locally and cook it seasonally. But there comes a time in late winter-early spring when I can’t bear to roast another Brussels sprout, bake another sweet potato or massage another leaf of kale into submission. That’s when I buy broccoli grown who knows where and transported to my friendly neighborhood Whole Foods Market. Call it a bridge to the days of peas and asparagus.

Once I get it home, I usually douse it with curry powder and roast it, or microwave it and finish it under the broiler. But I’ve been trying to break out of those ruts, too, looking for ideas that speak of spring.

VIENNA, VA, JANUARY 9, 2013: Winter salad of shaved cucumber, radish and endive with lemon vinaigrette. Dishware courtesy of Crate & Barrel. (Photo by ASTRID RIECKEN For The Washington Post)

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I found something that fills the bill in the new cookbook “Meatless: More Than 200 of the Very Best Vegetarian Recipes,” by the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living (Clarkson Potter). The broccoli becomes a pesto of sorts — one without cheese and with less basil than usual.

The recipes uses wide rice noodles instead of pasta, a choice that adds even more lightness and also makes the dish gluten-free. But not just any old rice noodles; at Whole Foods I found brown rice noodles from Annie Chun’s, and they cooked up just as slippery-tender as the white-rice variety, with more fiber.

They’ve become part of my dinnertime rotation, and I’m sure they’ll stay there — even once I can buy broccoli, and more, from a farmer instead.

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