Broccoli is one of those veggies that makes a good sidekick, but it’s not much of a star. Sure, it holds up well in stir fry and I do love me some savory sweet broccoli slaw in the summer but even when it is blanched, I find the true essence of broccoli to be woody and just a bit ho hum. And I’m usually of the mind that if the only way I can enjoy a particular veggie is to douse it in cheese, heavy cream, eggs, or butter, then it’s probably not worth keeping in the dinner rotation. However, I’m also of the mind that eating well on a reasonable budget and being a resourceful home cook means working with what’s cheap, seasonal and plentiful. So, since broccoli was 99 cents a pound last week and I do love me some pesto, I decided to make Deb’s broccoli cream pesto pasta. Life’s just more fun when you embrace contradiction, anyway.
If you like broccoli cheese soup, pesto, or broccoli slaw, this pasta hits on all those cravings. The flavour is a little bland as written, but you can add more heat, acid or cheese to your tastes. I added extra garlic, red chilies and a bunch of lemon zest. I also roasted some prawns with lemon zest and red chillies and added those at the end. Next time, I’ll also add a splash of white white. If you object to the use of the term “pesto” without the presence of nuts, I could see toasted finely chopped almonds working well in this dish as well, to complement the woody flavour of the broccoli and add a bit more depth. And with so few components, I would recommend grana padano or parmigiano regianno. I used shredded light parm and it was a sad mistake. So, do as I say and not as a I do This pasta is creamy and cheesey and yet somehow still light, even for a pasta. As it turns out, contradiction is also delicious.