I love it when I can sneak extra veggies into a meal. The fact that this pasta dish has a whole head of broccoli in it makes me smile. What makes me smile wider is the fact that I can make this dish for dinner in less than 15 minutes. Healthy veggies plus quick and easy? Yes please!
Start by cutting the broccoli head into large pieces and toss into a big pan of SALTED boiling water. Let them cook until they are tender, about 3-5 minutes. Now, when I say salted, I mean salted. Not a little pinch, a good palm full of salt. Trust me. When you try a piece of that soft, salted broccoli you will have a hard time blending it into sauce. You could stop right there and have a delicious bowl of broccoli for dinner. I wouldn’t blame you. In fact I wanted to do that exact same thing, if it wasn’t for my husband whining “you won’t have any for the sauce” and “what are you going to blog about now, boiled broccoli? Your readers will be thrilled”.
Anywho… scoop the broccoli out of water with a large slotted spoon. Don’t throw that water away. Use that for the pasta. Throw it in and cook according to package directions.
Meanwhile, make the pesto. Put the broccoli, olive oil, pine puts, lemon juice, basil, cheese, and garlic into a food processor and blend away. It should make a smooth and creamy sauce.
The one thing that you need to be careful with is the consistency. Broccoli has a lot more mass and density than basil leaves. This means that when you blend it up it can turn to more of a baby food consistency than sauce. If this happens make sure to thin it out a little by using some of your broccoli/pasta water.
Now the only thing that is left to do is drain the cooked pasta and toss it with the sauce. If you want to be fancy add some parmesan cheese and pine nuts on top. Or if you’re feeling spicy, sprinkle on some red pepper flakes. Serve it to your adoring family who think you went all out.
This recipe calls for a fresh head of broccoli, but feel free to use the frozen stuff as well. Take it straight from the freeze into the boiling water and cook until tender, just like the fresh stuff.
- 1 head broccoli, chopped into large sections
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 4-5 fresh basil leaves
- ¼ cup fresh parmesan cheese
- 1 small clove garlic
- reserved cooking water
- pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 lb pasta (your choice of noodles)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a good “palm full” of salt (about 1-2 Tablespoons depending on how much water you have) and toss in broccoli pieces. Cook until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from water using a slotted spoon. Keep the water and bring it back to a boil (it’s okay if it still has small broccoli pieces it) and add the pasta of your choice. Cook pasta according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, add broccoli, olive oil, pine nuts, lemon juice, basil leaves, parmesan cheese, and garlic to a food processor. Blend until smooth. If too thick use broccoli/pasta water to thin it out a little. Season with salt and pepper.
- Toss cooked pasta with sauce. Garnish with parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and red pepper flakes, if desired.