Broccoli Pesto Pasta

Life has been a little beyond crazy lately. I have been packing up our entire house this week. I'll tell ya, five years is a long time to accumulate a lot of stuff. I can't even believe how much stuff we have crammed into our little sardine can we call a house. This weekend, my parent's and I are doing a house swap! Luckily, we don't have to go very far, considering we share a driveway. I am super excited. Especially after our house building this past fall didn't work out. Talk about extreme disappointment! This house swap solves so many issues at one time! My parent's house is too big for them to maintain alone anymore, they get to retire to a smaller house, we can get out of this little house since our family is growing, and we get a "new" house with plenty of room! Win-win! Three of the things I am most excited for, are, a large kitchen with lots of counter space, a dishwasher (I have been hand washing dishes for 7 years!), and a bath tub! I have gone through nearly all my pregnancies and five years with a stand up shower. So, so excited!

Enough about my life, now on to this fabulous dish. This pasta is uh-mazing. In fact, my daughter keeps asking me, "hey mom, do you remember that pesto pasta? It was so yummy! Do you think you could make it again soon?" Super cute. It's creamy and delicious. A great, sneaky way to get a sometimes tough vegetable into a kid! It doesn't even taste like broccoli. Not with the addition of heavy cream and parmesan cheese. You can definitely take this recipe a step up and use whole wheat pasta if you prefer. Definitely an easy weeknight dinner that will please everyone.

Broccoli Pesto Pasta

Yield: about 8 servings

  • 1 lb. broccoli

  • 1 lb. pasta

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped

  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • Up to ½ cup heavy cream (or greek yogurt, or half and half)

  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • grated Parmesan, for serving


Bring a large pot of water to boil. Meanwhile, chop the broccoli into florets. When the water is boiling, add the broccoli to the water to boil briefly just until fork-tender, about 3-4 minutes. (Alternatively, add a steamer basket above the water and steam the broccoli until fork-tender.) Transfer to a bowl, leaving the water in the pot. (Use a skimmer or strainer to remove the broccoli if you boiled it.)

Maintain the water at a boil. Add the pasta to the pot and cook according to the package directions until al dente. Reserve 1½ cups of the pasta water and then drain the pasta well. Set aside.Return the pot to the heat. Add the butter and olive oil to the pot over medium-high heat, heating until the butter is melted. Add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes and salt and cook 1-2 minutes more. Return the cooked broccoli to the pan and cook 1-2 minutes more to heat through. Season with pepper to taste.

Transfer the broccoli mixture to a food processor or blender. Pulse in short bursts, scraping down the sides as needed, until the mixture is finely chopped. Add in the cream, greek yogurt, or half and half and process until smooth. If needed, add the reserved pasta water a little bit at a time just until the sauce is smooth and creamy. (Don’t overdo it – you don’t want a watery sauce!) Season with freshly ground pepper to taste. In a large bowl (or in the pot), toss the pasta with the sauce. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Source: Annie's Eats, originally adapted from Smitten Kitchen