Wait… broccoli pesto? Yep. It’s good, I promise!
I object at least a smidge to calling it a “pesto,” since it doesn’t have basil or other herbs or nuts, but pesto is actually a somewhat reasonable description of how the sauce turns out.
It’s delicious, plus it’s a great way to sneak some extra veggies in, especially if your kiddo — or significant other, as the case may be — objects to the texture of broccoli by itself. Not the case for either of mine, fortunately (as the hubby would want me to point out).
This is definitely the tastiest use of broccoli I have come across, and it was so simple to make. I steamed the broccoli and made the pesto while Nora was napping, and finished it off in a quick 10 minutes at dinner time. Score!
Did Nora like it?
Um, yeah. I’d say so. Eat your veggies, kids!
Pasta with Creamy Broccoli Pesto
Adapted from this recipe from Smitten Kitchen
1/2 lb broccoli
1/2 lb dried cappellini or spaghetti, preferably whole wheat
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped*
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
4 Tbs heavy cream or milk
1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus additional for serving
Remove the broccoli florets from the stem and peel the stem with a vegetable peeler. Peel the stem with a vegetable peeler and slice into 1/2-inch pieces. Steam the broccoli until just tender (5-6 minutes) and set aside.
Add the pasta to a large pot of boiling salted water** and cook until about one minute less than fully cooked. Drain the pasta, reserving about a cup of the cooking water.
Wipe out the pasta pot so that you can use it again. In the bottom of the pot, melt the butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Add the onion and reduce the heat to medium-low, sauteing it until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another two minutes. Add the steamed broccoli, salt, and red pepper and turn the heat back up to medium-high, cooking it with the onion and garlic for a few additional minutes. Pour the cream over the mixture and let it cook for 30 seconds.
Transfer the broccoli mixture to a blender or food processor, scraping up the creamy bits at the bottom of the pan. Add 1/4 cup Parmesan and pulse until finely chopped with a creamy pesto-like texture.
Add the broccoli mixture back to the pot with the drained pasta and a splash or two of the reserved pasta water. Cook over medium-high for 1 to 2 minutes, tossing the mixture so that the sauce evenly coats the pasta. Add more pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. Adjust the seasonings to taste, and serve topped with additional Parmesan.
* You could always substitute half an onion, but I didn’t have an onion in the house (shocker!).
** You can re-use the broccoli steaming water if you are not making the pesto ahead of time