Since I’ve already confessed my love of pasta to you guys, I figured it would be helpful to also share my favorite pasta sauce. You can cover pasta in almost anything…tomato sauce, meat sauce, cream sauce, cheese sauce, a light olive oil based sauce…or even a combination of a few of these. Anything goes! However, my personal favorite thing to douse my noodles in, is pesto.
Pesto is an herbaceous green sauce traditionally made up of basil, toasted pine nuts, parmesan cheese, garlic and extra-virgin olive oil. Throw all of those ingredients into a food processor and pulse away. YUM! Some people take one look at anything green and think it can’t possibly taste good. Not true, my friend. My dad is actually the perfect example of such a person. I made some pesto to go over a beef dish we had the other night and he was really unenthused about trying it. Green sauce? On beef? Pass the steak sauce, please. Luckly, one bite in he became a believer. I think I even saw him attempt to lick his plate clean…sorry Dad.
I love pesto because it makes me feel like I’m eating super light even when good old carbs are hiding out under all of that herby goodness. So what? At least I’m getting my veggies.
My latest pesto creation is even more exciting because it actually takes some veggies that are REALLY good for you and yet REALLY boring, and turns them into a flavorful and super healthy pasta topping. Yay for “healthy” and “pasta” to be found in the same sentence!
Roasted Broccoli Pesto Pasta is an awesome way to sneak veggies into a meal for a picky eater, but it’s also just a really fun way to enjoy your broccoli a little bit more than usual. Roasting makes anything taste better, but it has an especially awesome effect on broccoli. The crispy little brown bits give your pesto a deep, nutty flavor that you can’t achieve with simple pine nuts. The rest of the pesto recipe remains true to tradition, and is combined with a hearty whole-wheat penne pasta and cherry tomatoes. Serve as-is or top with pan-seared chicken breast. Enjoy!
1 package fresh broccoli florets
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for roasting
1⁄2 cup basil
1⁄2 cup pine nuts (toast them quickly in a dry sauté pan if you have time) 1⁄2 cup freshly grated parmesan
salt and pepper, to taste
1 package whole wheat penne pasta
1 pint cherry tomatoes
- Spread broccoli and garlic out on rimmed cookie sheet or roasting pan. Drizzle with salt, pepper, and olive oil.
- Roast broccoli 20 to 25 minutes at 425.
- Remove broccoli from oven and allow to cool slightly.
- Put roasted broccoli, basil, pine nuts, parmesan and lemon zest in a food
processor. Turn on and slowly drizzle in extra virgin olive oil until pesto forms. You want the pesto to be thin enough to cover pasta like a sauce, but not so thinned out that it gets oily. Add more EVOO if needed to achieve this consistency.
- Season pesto with salt and pepper as needed.
- Toss pesto with cooked pasta and cherry tomatoes. Serve.