During the summertime when fresh herbs are so abundant, one way that I like to use them up is by making a pesto sauce. Pesto pasta seems to be one of those things that people can either love or hate, but I've always loved it!
Up until now, I haven't expanded much beyond the traditional basil pesto, but I'm intrigued by other types of pesto I've seen on food blogs, like arugula, cilantro, kale, roasted pepper, and most recently - broccoli pesto. So the last time I picked up some broccoli with no specific plans for it, I decided to try making broccoli pesto.
The pesto itself was pretty easy to make - the broccoli is blanched in boiling water, then blended with the traditional pesto ingredients of olive oil, garlic and lemon. I also added some fresh parsley and tahini because I I like the combination of tahini and lemon in sauces. Finally, instead of using parmesan cheese, I added some nutritional yeast to give the sauce a bit of cheesy flavour.
For the pasta, I tossed some cavatappi with the pesto sauce and added chickpeas to make it more of a complete meal (the original recipe that I used for inspiration suggested using white beans, so you could try that too, although I prefer chickpeas).
I liked how the taste of the broccoli came through in the pesto without being overpowering - if you have picky eaters in your family, this could be a good way to get them to eat their veggies! Topped with a big squeeze of lemon juice, this was a nice bright and flavourful meal that made me even more excited for summer!
Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Chickpeas
Adapted from Mrs. Regueiro's Plate
Half a head of broccoli, chopped (about 2.5 cups)
About 7 oz short dried pasta (I used cavatappi)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 tsp lemon zest
Juice of half a lemon,
Pinch of salt
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Additional lemon wedges for serving
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli pieces and boil until they are tender and bright green, about 4 minutes. Remove immediately using a slotted spoon and place in a food processor.
Bring the water back to a boil and add the pasta. Cook according to package directions, then drain, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water. Return pasta to the pot and set aside.
Meanwhile, prepare the pesto by adding the olive oil, tahini, nutritional yeast, garlic, parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt to the food processor with the broccoli. Process until completely smooth. If the pesto looks thick, add some of the reserved pasta water, a tablespoon at a time, to thin it out (I added 2 tbsp of water).
Transfer the pesto to the pot with the pasta and stir until all the pasta is coated (you can add more of the pasta water here if needed). Stir in the chickpeas. If you want the dish to be served hot, turn the stove on medium-low and heat until the pasta and chickpeas are warmed through.
Taste and season with more salt and pepper if desired. Serve with additional lemon wedges.
Makes 3 servings.