You didn’t think I would quickly stop populating the broccoli archives with one new recipe. I mean, the slaw is still a winner. The cakes were great. When your child likes broccoli, you’ll always look for more innovative ways to use it. I will read a recipe that calls for cauliflower in magazines and think broccoli could work well here. I ate a watercress dish in a restaurant with a fine dusting of breadcrumbs that adhered to each leaf. I thought: Broccoli. I made roasted potatoes and added some lemon zest, garlic, and garlic. Then I kicked myself for not including broccoli. You could say that the obsession has shifted from the toddler’s axis to the mother-ship. These things happen.
Who am I to stop the broccoli craze? I made this… I’m calling it pesto, but it’s more of a sauce than a mixture of garlic, raw herbs, and cheese. It’s something I began making over the summer. This dish was inspired by a recipe I saw on a stunning blog. It is dangerous because it makes me question why we don’t live in France. Why haven’t I ever biked back with many freshly-baked baguettes in a wicker basket prepared in an ancient style? Why do I not have any heliciculturalists (escargot growers, of course) as neighbors? And why don’t the yelling people in my hallway (my actual neighbors) bring me fresh-dug morels at all times? Alex, do you read along with me? Honey, why do we not have 14 dogs with us? It’s gotten to the point where I greet a new post on the blog by peeking nervously through my fingers the way you would when watching a scary movie because I’m so terrified that it will be the post that breaks my will to live a single moment longer as we previously happily did, that all there will be left to do is pack this place up, and holler “Thanks anyway for the morels!” at the yelling neighbors door as we head for the stairs/street/taxi/airport/new life, one with backyard plum trees.
Ahem. Perhaps I got carried away. Yes, we were talking about the broccoli pesto. This is made with steamed broccoli, some onion, and garlic that I cook in butter until they are sweet and heavy cream. This mixture is then blended until it resembles a sauce, and then I toss in some pasta water. It is important to sprinkle the Parmesan over the entire bowl. This will punch it and enhance the flavor of the dish. It’s a mellow, excellent preparation that is total Toddler bait here. It is parent-delighting because I know the pasta and broccoli are matched ounce-for-ounce. Adults don’t like it either, but I would add more red pepper flakes and garlic to the dish for us. We’d drink wine with it. We’d look out the window and watch the yellowing leaves whizz down the busy street below, putting aside thoughts of other idylls for a moment.
Spaghetti in Broccoli Cream Pesto
Note: This gluten-free sauce can be used to make gluten-free pasta.
1/2 pound broccoli1/2 pound dried spaghetti
One tablespoon of unsalted butter
Olive oil one tablespoon
Finely chop 1/2 small onion
One clove of minced garlic (or more, according to taste)
Half a teaspoon of table salt
Black pepper freshly ground or red pepper flakes pinches
Heavy cream, four tablespoons
To serve, grate about 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese.
Boil a large pot with salted water for your pasta.
Cut broccoli stems into medium-sized florets. Peel contains using a vegetable peeler. (I prefer the taste of stems without their tough skin. Slice them into 1/2-inch segments.
You can use the water from your future pasta to steam, or par-boil broccoli stems and florets (by placing a mesh strainer on top of your pasta pot and covering it for 5-6 minutes). Drain if necessary and set aside.
Add pasta to the water and cook for about a minute less than when fully cooked. Reserve a cup or so of the pasta cooking water before draining. Drain pasta.
You can reuse the pot by wiping it clean. Melt butter and olive oils together in the bottom of the pot over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and sauté the onion for about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for two more minutes. Add the steamed broccoli, red or black pepper, and salt, then turn the heat to medium-high. Cook it for a few minutes with the onion and the garlic. Pour the cream into the mixture and cook for 30 seconds.
Blend the broccoli mixture in short bursts with the creamy bits from the bottom of the pan. It’s okay if the mixture looks dry. The pasta water you saved will add some sauce in just a few minutes. The broccoli sauce can be made with an immersion blender inside the pot, but this could get messy because of all the small pieces and chunks.
Add the broccoli sauce to the pot, the spaghetti that has been drained, and a splash of the pasta water you saved. Stirring the mixture to ensure it is evenly coated, cook on medium-high for 1 to 2 minutes. If necessary, add more pasta water to loosen up the sauce. Add salt or black pepper to your taste and spoon into a serving dish. Sprinkle grated Parmesan over the spaghetti and enjoy.
Make ahead: When I cook for Jacob, I boil a small amount of pasta daily.