I cook pasta at least once a week. And, taking into account leftovers, we eat pasta three times a week. It’s fast and versatile. And, while I usually rely on marinara sauce or quick spaghetti sauce, I try to incorporate different flavors and textures to create a satisfying dish without being too monotonous.
And, with my everlasting fondness for pesto, this dish is appropriate for a lunch or dinner. And, the flavors get even better the next day. So, leftovers of this comforting dish are anything but mundane.
The addition of spinach, broccoli and toasted walnuts adds depth and nutritional value without compromising taste.
Pesto Pasta with Spinach, Broccoli and Walnuts
- 1 (16 oz) package bow tie pasta
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 head broccoli crown
- 1 (10 oz) package of frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed and drained of water
- 3/4 cup pesto – use your favorite pesto (I used half basil pesto and half sun-dried tomato pesto)
- 1 tbsp red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black ground pepper
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, plus additional for dusting on top
- Boil pasta to al dente in salted water. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.
- Using a large saucepan (I use my dutch oven), and heat your olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is heated, add the garlic and cook for approximately 2 minutes – until the garlic is slightly brown. Add the broccoli and stir for a minute. Cover the broccoli and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the broccoli for 3 minutes over medium. After 3 minutes, add the spinach to the broccoli. At this point, you are just trying to warm up the spinach without overcooking the broccoli. I cook the spinach with the broccoli for about one minute. You do not want to overcook the broccoli. You want it to be firm but not raw. If you can pierce it, it’s ready – you definitely do not want it be mushy.
- Once the broccoli/spinach mixture is cooked, add it to the bowl containing the pasta.
- To the pasta/broccoli mix, add your pesto, red pepper flakes, walnuts, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese. Toss to ensure that the pasta is evenly coated.
- Check for salt and add more if desired. I start with 1/4 tsp because the pesto and the Parmesan add saltiness to the dish.
- Once the pasta is coated, sprinkle additional Parmesan cheese on top right before serving.