Monday, January 31, 2011

Broccoli Besto ~ A Twist on Pesto

I can still remember it so vividly - one day my 18 month old daughter was eating everything from black beans and rice to peas and spinach and then, seemingly overnight, some magical I-don't-eat-vegetables-breadcrusts-or-anything-resembling-a-vegetable switch was flipped. That precious girl is now 7 and things are starting to turn back around, but I am continually dreaming up new ways to make green things look good and taste even better.

I will admit to you that dinner, the once favorite, most anticipated and well thought out meal of the day, is frequently the bane of my existance-- except on days when I get an idea like this one!

We love pesto around here - it is one of the green things that my kids love with pasta. Because of this, I thought hey - why couldn't I substitute broccoli for basil and see what happens?! I gave it a whirl and happy to report it was a hit! I can assure you the whole family will love this!

NOTE: You can toss this with your favorite pasta or enjoy on it's own (kind of like you would creamed spinach). I used it as a side dish with grilled chicken breasts and mixed it with Dittalini pasta to make it more appealing to the kids.


1-2 small heads broccoli
1/2 1lb. box Dittalini or other small pasta
2 cloves fresh garlic finely chopped
2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tbsp. butter (Yes people, BUTTER! Live it up and get yourself some Plugra!)
1/4 cup half and half
1/4 cup grated Parmesean Cheese
Kosher/Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

OPTIONAL ADD INS: Red Pepper flakes, Toasted Pine Nuts


Food processor or blender
Bowl of ice water


Put medium pot of salted water on to boil while you rinse and chop broccoli.
Once water is boiling, add broccoli and let cook for 5-6 minutes. Transfer with slotted spoon to bowl of ice water to stop cooking and retain color. Save boiling water and add pasta! Add broccoli to food processor and pulse/grind until finely chopped. Set aside.

In deep saucepan over medium heat saute olive oil, butter and garlic - careful the oil is not too hot or the garlic will burn and be bitter. Stir in broccoli and saute for 1-2minutes before adding half and half, parmesean, salt and pepper. When pasta is done, drain and fold in with broccoli.

This goes really well with grilled chicken and my whole family gave it two thumbs up. You could also make this with linguine and add in shredded roasted chicken for an almost one-pot meal.

Took a pic of the kid plate as I didn't have time to plate a pretty grown-up one. Added unsweetened applesauce to the little heart for a very well balanced meal!

Ready, set, enjoy!

Hope you'll try this recipe and let me know what you think!



  1. Looks awesome Jen! I will try this after my month of Veganist is over (no dairy - BAH!). Love the pictures:>)

  2. looks great! I will try it this week. Vegans could still do this--substitute with soy/rice products!
    Thanks for the wonderful dinner idea.

  3. Loving this idea, Jen! I usually make a big batch of garden basil pesto in early autumn to freeze in small portions and enjoy year round. This is the first year I didn't get to do it in many years. I'm going to try this recipe. Thanks!! Best, Ginny

  4. Thanks so much for reading and commenting girls!

    Laura - you could totally make this and just saute some pine nuts/garlic in olive oil, then throw broccoli in -- still super yummy!!

    Happy experimenting ~ XO