With all of the recent tragic events it’s really made me sit back and count my blessings. America is supposed to be a nation of nations, where people come to be free and thrive and build better lives. What is happening lately? Too many public shootings, then Newtown and now the Boston Marathon. As one of my friends put it, it’s like the pendulum has swung and we’ve all become vulnerable. I can’t imagine what all of the victim’s families must be going through. I feel so helpless. America needs to unify again and make a come back. Anywho my heart goes out to everyone in Boston this morning.
Moving from my darker rant to something that always lightens my mood: Fresh Pesto.
Pesto is one of my favorite sauces to add to a dish of steaming pasta. I wanted to add some more nutrition to my bowl and thought it might be fun to incorporate broccoli into the mix too. As it turned out, many other foodies and bloggers alike have had this same idea of pureeing broccoli into a pesto. However, most of them omit the basil completely. I decided to make a hybrid.
We have also added whole wheat pasta to our regiment. Although I don’t use it 100% of the time, I try to at least incorporate at half and half mixture to our pasta dishes. I’ve found that some wheat pastas are a bit “wheatier” than others and may take a bit of adjusting to if you are used to all white, smooth flour pastas. Mixing wheat and white pastas are a great way to start.
I really loved the texture of this sauce. If I were going to add anything to this recipe, it would be a bit of fat from either heavy cream or greek yogurt. Either would work great.
2 tablespoons pine nuts (or your favorite nuts to use in pesto)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped, for garnish
grated parmesan, for serving (optional)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, chop the broccoli into florets. Use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to remove the tough outer skins of the broccoli stem and chop the stem into 1/2-inch discs. When the water is boiling, add the broccoli florets and stem to the water to boil until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Remove broccoli to a bowl, leaving the water in the pot.
Maintain the water at a boil. Add the pasta to the pot and cook according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and then drain the pasta well. Set aside.
Return the pot to the heat. Add the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt and cook 1 minute more. Return the cooked broccoli to the pan and cook 1-2 minutes to heat through. Season with pepper to taste.
Transfer the broccoli mixture, fresh basil, lemon juice, black pepper and nuts to a food processor. Pulse in short bursts, scraping down the sides as needed, until the mixture is finely chopped. Add a bit of pasta water to thin out the sauce until it is smooth and creamy. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if necessary. In a large bowl (or in the pot), toss the pasta with the sauce. Serve with chopped tomatoes and freshly grated Parmesan if using.