I hadn’t been feeling super inspired to blog for the past few weeks. Maybe it was the fact that it’s been cold and rainy and generally gloomtastic around here, maybe it was the fact that my mind was focused on other thoughts and my hands were busy doing other things. I had recipes and photos queued up to post, but no desire to talk about them. And maybe it’s the fact that spring has finally sprung, but I’m feeling excited to telling you about delicious food again. I’m also feeling really pumped about warm weather dishes. While I’m a soup-and-stew lady through and through, the cold and grey lasted a little too long this year, and I’m so ready to bust out the salads and sandwiches.
This is a great transition dish for that weird in-between period. With the bright, green, fresh broccoli “pesto” and baby spinach, it looks and feels super springy and light. But it’s still got that creamy, comforting, pasta thang going on. I think you could easily (and deliciously) serve this cold or at room temperature instead of warm, and it would be a refreshing dish even on the hottest of days. And despite a dubious April, it’s clear now that those days are comin’!
I made this a few weeks ago and absolutely loved it. I’m a broccoli freak, so it was no surprise to me. I threw in some spinach leaves at the end for extra green goodness, but you could also add them to the pesto itself. You could pretty much throw any other leftover greens into the pesto to add some extra flavor—arugula would be great, and you could even use basil to give it more of a traditional pesto flavor. The beauty of pesto is that you can really have fun with it—just play around and enjoy!
Broccoli Pesto Pasta
Adapted from Annie’s Eats
- 1 lb. broccoli
- 1 lb. short pasta
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
- 2 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves, optional
- Additional Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving, optional
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Meanwhile, chop the broccoli crowns into florets. Chop the stems into ½-inch discs. When the water is boiling, add the broccoli to the water to boil briefly just until fork-tender, about 3-4 minutes. (Alternatively, add a steamer basket above the water and steam the broccoli until fork-tender.) Remove to a bowl, leaving the water in the pot. (Use a skimmer or strainer to remove the broccoli if you boiled it.)
- Maintain the water at a boil. Add the pasta to the pot and cook according to the package directions until al dente. Reserve ½ cups of the pasta water and then drain the pasta well. Set aside.
- Return the pot to the heat. Add the butter and olive oil to the pot over medium-high heat, heating until the butter is melted. Add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes and salt and cook 1-2 minutes more. Return the cooked broccoli to the pan and cook 1-2 minutes more to heat through. Season with pepper to taste.
- Transfer the broccoli mixture to a food processor or blender. Pulse in short bursts, scraping down the sides as needed, until the mixture is finely chopped. Add in the greek yogurt and parmesan cheese and process until smooth. If needed, add the reserved pasta water a little bit at a time just until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Season with freshly ground pepper to taste. In a large bowl (or in the pot), toss the pasta with the sauce. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan.