Broccoli and Spinach Pesto

 

Pasta 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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Spaghetti Squash with Broccoli and Cheese

I fell in love with spaghetti squash a few winters ago and made it almost weekly coming up with different recipes. There are so many ways you can use it–essentially you can substitute almost any spaghetti recipe. When you are watching your carb intake it’s a filling and warm winter meal! No, it’s not the same as pasta and don’t let anyone tell you that–but it’s still good! I previously posted my pasta with broccoli recipe which is one of my favorite dinners. The below recipe is similar but with… spaghetti squash.

Spaghetti Squash


Ingredients

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and lots of coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 shallot (optional)
  • Chicken broth- about 1/4 cup or so
  • Butter (amount to your liking- I used 2 spoonfuls of whipped butter)
  • Broccoli

Directions

To bake the squash, cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Spray with olive oil and add salt and pepper. Put it in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes.

Put a small amount of water in a pan on high and steam your broccoli florets until bright green – about 3 or 4 minutes. Take out and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Then place on a cutting board and chop up into small pieces. You can also put them in food processor and give it a rough chop.

In a saute pan add olive oil, garlic and shallots and cook until translucent. Then add some chicken broth and let it simmer for 1-2 minutes.

garlic and shallot

Add the broccoli and butter.

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When your spaghetti squash is ready, use a fork to scrape out the “spaghetti”. (This time I scraped the seeds out after I cooked it)


Squash
Squash

Add the spaghetti in your pan with cheese salt and lots of black pepper. If you’d like, dress with some more olive oil. Toss together and serve.

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Squash and broccoli

Pasta with Broccoli

Easy. Low cost. Delicious (IF you love broccoli).

Pasta with broccoli has a long history with our family. Growing up, my mom made it often as a side to a meat focused dinner. We typically use the farfalle or “bowtie” pasta as we called it as kids. This meal can be made so many different ways and with different accents. Below is my favorite version but you can also consider using lemon juice, lemon zest, white wine, and certainly butter if you aren’t trying to keep it too healthy. It’s an easy weeknight dinner when you don’t have a lot in your fridge, it’s a great side to a protein and it’s delicious leftover hot or cold. I usually make extra so I have leftovers for lunch the next day. The hard part is refraining from eating it all!

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For a healthier option steam your broccoli in water and chicken broth instead of using olive oil. It will still be tasty and u can drizzle a tiny bit of oil on top for finishing. You can also skip the blender to remove an extra step when you are pressed for time. I like it because it makes the sauce a little thicker. Think of it as a broccoli pesto.

INGREDIENTS:
-2 heads fresh broccoli
-2-3 cloves garlic
-2 shallots
-few tbsps Parmesan cheese
-olive oil
-red pepper flakes
-chicken broth as needed
-pasta (whole wheat penne used here but I encourage the bowties)
-salt & pepper
-fresh basil or parsley (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
Place a large pot of water on high heat. Bring to boil.

Sauté garlic, shallots, red pepper flakes in olive oil.

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Place half of your broccoli in blender And blend until the big chunks are gone.

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Add the mixture to your pan with the remaining broccoli that you chopped into bite sized pieces. Add salt and pepper.

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Add chicken broth as needed so you have enough liquid for your pasta. Let cook for a few minutes. I don’t like mushy broccoli so as soon as it gets soft I take off the heat. Mix in a large bowl with pasta. Add cheese, more fresh basil and serve.