Broccoli and Spinach Pesto

image8Pasta with broccoli is one of my favorite dinners. My mom always made it growing up with bowtie pasta as a side to flank steak or some other protein. It’s garlicky, cheesy, uses fresh veggies and is one the most comforting dinners any time of year. One night I had the idea to make the broccoli into more of a sauce so I took out my handy blender and started throwing things in there. The outcome was another easy weeknight meal that’s comforting and pretty good for you. Of course you can use a whole wheat pasta or whatever you like.

Ingredients:

  • Broccoli – 1 large head or 2 small
  • 1-2 cups of fresh spinach
  • Basil (this is optional- a few basil leaves is a good addition I didn’t have when I made it)
  • Pignoli nuts (also optional, I didn’t have any when I made it but it’s a good for protein)
  • Olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Chicken broth- a cup or so
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Avocado (optional addition, I used about 1/3 of a small avocado. The more you use, the less cheese and oil you have to use to get a creamy consistency)
  • 1 lb of the pasta of your choice

Directions:

Put a pot of water on the stove  and bring to a boil. Salt it and cook your pasta. In the meantime, you can make the pesto sauce.

Put your garlic cloves and oil in the pan on medium heat. Once it starts to sizzle add the broccoli and saute a few minutes. Add in the spinach. Let cook until it wilts and then add in the chicken broth. This will help steam the broccoli so it’s not rock hard in the blender. And sauteing it first in the oil will give it that nice flavor.

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When the broccoli is bright green and softens, it’s done.

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Then put the ingredients (less the broth) in the blender. Reserve the broth to thin out the sauce later if necessary.

Add parmesan cheese, avocado, salt and cracked black pepper. This would also be the time to add basil and nuts if you are using them.
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Pulse until it’s nice and chunky. You don’t want to pulverize it to death. If it’s a little dry add some of the broth you reserved in the pan. This will prevent you from having to add more olive oil but of course that’s a tasty option.

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Add your sauce to your cooked pasta, stir well and top with more cheese! You may need another spoonful of broth here. I also drizzled a tiny bit of olive oil on top which is not necessary but decadent and delicious. Season with more fresh cracked black pepper and enjoy!!

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