Get ready, this dish is going to be your new favorite. Pesto is already delicious. Adding charred broccoli brings out the complexity of toasty, nutty flavors. Combining that with some other classic basil pesto ingredients, makes one delicious dish! You can also smear some of the pesto over chicken breast and serve on or on the side of the pasta. Easy and delicious! Enjoy!
1 head of Broccoli chopped into florets
1 handful of basil
2-3 cloves of garlic
A few glugs of olive oil
1 handful of nuts (walnuts or pine nuts are best, but almond or pistachio would also work.)
1 cup of parmesan cheese grated. Pecorino also works.
3/4-1lb of pasta of your choice (We prefer a short noodle over a long noodle for this one)
Salt and pepper to taste
1lb of chicken breast or tenders (optional)
Step 1: Char the broccoli, boil pasta & bake chicken.
First salt your pasta water, bring to a boil, and cook pasta until al dente. This can be happening while you do the next steps.
For the chicken (this is totally optional) drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake oven until fully cooked. This chicken can later be tossed in with the pesto and pasta or served on the side with a smear of the pesto on top. Or just omit the chicken and enjoy a vegetarian dinner.
Cooking the broccoli can be done in two ways. The first is to place on a roasting pan with a drizzle of olive oil and roast for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes turn on your broiler so you get some good char on top. Make sure to keep an eye on it! You want a little blackening but you don’t want to incinerate them! Your broccoli should be fork-tender and lightly charred before removing from oven.
The second method is using 2 pans, ideally both cast iron. Drizzle oil in the large cast iron pan on medium heat. Add broccoli florets and then press them down with another pan. This keeps them tight to the pan and more surface area with char for you. After about 5 minutes when you have good char, poor in a little water (1/2 cup or so) then cover the large bottom pan and let the broccoli steam until fork tender (roughly 5 minutes).
Once you use either method for the broccoli remove it from the cooking vessel and set it aside. If you made chicken remove from oven when fully cooked. If you steamed in the pan, make sure all water is gone.
Step 2 : Grind everything into pesto!
Take your garlic, cheese, nuts and a pinch of salt and pepper and drop them into a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor you could also do this by hand with a knife or use a mortar and pestle. Blend until well chopped then add your basil and drizzle in a few glugs of olive oil. Pulse a few more times, then add broccoli. Continue to pulse until everything is a nice chunky paste. Give it a taste. It should be nutty, oily, cheesy, salty, and delicious!
Step 3: Toss with Pasta
Once your pasta is drained toss with your pesto until well coated. Add a little more grated cheese over the top. If you like spice you could also sprinkle red chili flakes. If you made chicken you can either chop into cubes and mix with your pasta and pesto or serve them on the side with a smear of the pesto on top! Pesto perfection!
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