The other night my brothers family came over for dinner. His family includes his wonderful wife and two of my adorable nephews! I adore these kids and obviously wanted to make something for dinner that a two year old would be willing to eat. He loves pasta and broccoli. I decided to do a nice big bowl of veggie pesto pasta. I loaded it with lots of fresh veggies and I don’t know about you, but I make pesto a little differently every time I make it. It always depends on what I have on hand. Pesto really needs 4 ingredients: garlic, toasted nuts, greens, and olive oil. Now don’t go changing the garlic and olive oil, but you can change up the nuts and greens a lot. Sometimes I do pine nuts and basil, but I also like to switch it up and do walnuts and spinach or almonds and arugula. You can really get creative and find your perfect combo! This recipe includes a combo of pine nuts, almonds, spinach, and basil.
Veggie Pesto Pasta
What you’ll need:
1 lb. of pasta (I used rigatoni)
1 purple onion, halved and sliced
1 head of broccoli, cut in 1-2 inch pieces
1 bunch of asparagus, cut in 1 inch pieces with the tops reserved
5 leaves of swiss chard, sliced
2 zucchini, halved and sliced
a couple handfuls of grape tomatoes
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
4 cloves of garlic, peeled (you can do more or less, but this is a good amount)
about 2 cups basil leaves and stems
about 2 cups spinach
What you’ll do:
In a very large pan, on medium heat, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil and the onion, broccoli, and asparagus stems. Saute on medium low for a few minutes and while it’s going, make the pesto. Also put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta.
In a food processor, place the garlic, then greens, then the nuts. Pulse until pureed. While pulsing, slowly drizzle in about 1 – 1 1/2 cup olive oil until the pesto is smooth.
So, your water should be boiling, so cook your pasta until it’s al dente.
At the same time, add the rest of the veggies (except the tomatoes) to the vegetable pan and saute on medium. When the pasta is done cooking, reserve a couple cups of the cooking water and strain the rest of it. In the large pasta pot combine the pasta, pesto, vegetables, and tomatoes. Gently stir together. If the pesto is super thick, add a little bit of that reserved cooking water.
Serve warm and enjoy!
PS my brothers family loved this recipe