Do you guys remember when you could eat all the pasta you wanted and didn’t even think about how that would make your pants fit? Ahhhh, those were the days! Those days are gone (for me at least). Now I need to be smarter about everything that I put in my body. Luckily, there are still delicious ways to do that like, like with this Broccoli Pesto recipe. It’s perfect for a busy mom’s lunch or last-minute family dinner. There was a time when I was obsessed with pesto sauce. I would use almost an entire container of store-bought pesto sauce on a large bowl of pasta. It was delicious. And awful. Pesto sauce, in general, has some good qualities. Basil has anti-inflammatory properties. Olive oil is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats. But the amount I was eating was not cute. Plus, many store-bought varieties are full of sodium. Today I partnered with Barilla to bring you a new way to do pesto with this easy to make Broccoli Pesto. Now I can eat pasta and not worry about it. Dreams do come true! My favorite things to make are things that will keep well and I can eat the leftovers for several days. As a work at home mom, lunches have to be fast. I certainly don’t want to be in the kitchen more than I need to be. Usually convenient food is bad food. But this Broccoli Pesto takes just a few minutes to make and has me feeling good about eating it all week long. But it isn’t just the sauce that needed a change. My pasta needed a makeover too.
That pasta aisle at the grocery store can be SUPER overwhelming. So all you need to know is that Barilla is your new go-to brand. Many of their products pack benefits that our whole family needs! Our pasta meals can be more wholesome and still be delicious! And let’s face it, busy families eat a lot of pasta. Because, easy The big difference in this pesto sauce is the broccoli. Broccoli is one of our favorite green veggies to eat. Usually we just roast it until brown and crispy. But since we like the flavor, I thought I’d try to make it in to a pesto. It’s high in fiber and vitamins. And when I want to save a little more time, I buy it in a bag which is already cut and ready to go! I have a big mental block about boiling water (you may remember I got all kinds of excited about the ability to “hard boil” eggs in the oven). But cooking broccoli this way literally takes 3 minutes! So quick! I almost skipped putting the cooked broccoli in an ice bath when it was done cooking. Because, lazy. But I wanted to make sure the pictures turned out. After a quick boil, the ice bath just helps to stop the cooking and shock the broccoli to keep it bright green. But I’ll be honest. I may skip this step next time. That’s just how I roll in the kitchen…We know that adding broccoli to the pesto instantly adds more health benefits. But did you know that changing up your pasta does too?! I picked up the Barrila ProteinPLUS pasta to pair with this Broccoli Pesto recipe. This pasta is a good source of lean protein from a blend of egg whites, grains, lentils and chickpeas! It’s a tiny bit chewier than regular pasta which I really love! It feels a little bit heartier to me. The flavor difference is subtle and will pair perfectly with any kind of sauce. And when this pasta has 17 grams of protein, that definitely makes you feel better about eating pasta a few times a week! You can find these wholesome Barilla products at your local Walmart store. They have a great variety of pasta to suit many different dietary needs (like the Barilla Gluten Free Penne pasta which was recognized by Parents magazine’s top 25 best allergy friendly packaged foods!). Your favorite pesto flavors are still present in this recipe. But the broccoli and protein and fiber rich pasta make this a way better option for lunch or as a side dish for your family dinner. This recipe taught me that I really need to invest in a larger food processor, though. I did this in batches in my tiny appliance, but I absolutely could have done this in a heavy-duty blender also. Duh. The broccoli pesto comes together really quickly. The texture is a little bit different from standard pesto sauce. I made sure to watch how much oil I was adding so that it remained on the healthy side. I used fresh lemon to brighten up the flavor and topped it with toasted pistachios for a satisfying crunch. While I try to watch how much dairy I am eating, you just can’t skip the parmesan. It is the perfect way to add in some salt and tons of flavor. A little more for the top makes this an easy lunch that I really look forward to. One of my biggest hurdles in eating well is portion size. But since I like to make sure that I have leftovers, I just pre portion it out ahead of time so I’m not tempted to put a heaping portion on a plate.I know some people don’t love to reheat pasta but our family embraces it. If the pasta is separate from the sauce, I add about a teaspoon of water to the bowl when I microwave it. It helps to keep the pasta from sticking together or getting hard. Then I just pour out any leftover water before I add the sauce. The color of the broccoli pesto intrigued my kids and they both asked for this for their dinner the night I made it. Although I was bummed they ate my lunch for the week I wasn’t about to tell them no! They enjoyed the flavor and I found another way to work in veggies to their meal.
- 1 head of broccoli (I used only the florets. You can use the stalk but it may require more cooking time)
- 6 ounces of Barilla ProteinPLUS pasta (I used penne)
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
- 3 TBSP olive oil
- 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- roasted, salted pistachios, for topping
- Bring a pot of water to a boil.
- Add broccoli florets and cook until crisp tender, for approximately 3 minutes.
- Transfer broccoli to a large bowl of ice water, then drain on paper towels.
- Return pot to a boil and add pasta to the same cooking water as used for the broccoli (this saves time and may add a little extra flavor to the noodles).
- Cook pasta per directions on the box.
- Reserve approximately 1 cup of the pasta water then drain the pasta.
- In a food processor, add broccoli florets, parmesan, basil, olive oil and lemon juice.
- Blend until pesto consistency.
- Add salt and pepper as needed.
- In a large bowl, toss pasta with the pesto sauce.
- Add reserved pasta water, a little at a time, to get it to the consistency that you prefer.
- To serve, add pasta to a plate, top with broccoli pesto sauce, add an extra sprinkling of parmesan and top with salted, roasted pistachios.
You can find even more delicious meal ideas from Barilla on their site and this Pinterest Board. And check out this great offer for your next Barilla products purchase.
Thank you for supporting brands, like Barilla, that let me bring you easy meal ideas for busy moms and families.
Looking for more easy recipes? Try these great posts:
This spicy glass noodle salad is totally different and totally delicious!
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This teriyaki turkey stir fry can be a weeknight meal or mom lunch idea!