I haven ‘t always been big on pasta. Part of it is that Andy (for whatever reason) has always said that pasta feels like “lunch food” to him. And for me, I used to see ‘pasta’ as simply spaghetti and red sauce. But I’ve grown as a cook in the last four or five years and I now know that there are as many pasta and sauce combos as there are mango varieties in the world. But one of my biggest revelations (thanks to Mom) is that you can add vegetables into the pasta water and that opened up a whole host of creative possibilities for me with pasta. Our relationship evolved to a new place.
Last week when I got an enormous head of broccoli in my CSA, I made a batch of broccoli pesto pasta. I added corn and peppers and we used significantly less pasta and ate a ton of vegetables. And as we soak up the last up summer and all this fresh produce, these are exactly the kind of meals I’m after.
Penne with Broccoli Pesto and Corn
Add other vegetables to this pasta, if you like. As you can see, I added a couple of Carmen peppers from my CSA box, which I sliced and sautéed in a little olive oil. If you don’t want to pull out another skillet, stick with firm veggies like carrots and asparagus or any greens, which can be added to the pasta cooking liquid, along with the corn.
4 cups broccoli florets
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for grating
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed basil leaves
Ground black pepper
1/2 pound bite-size pasta, such as penne
2 ears corn, kernels removed (about 1 cup)
Bring 1 tablespoon of salt and 3 quarts of water to boil in a large soup kettle. Add broccoli and cook until just tender and still bright green, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a food processor. Add the Parmesan, nuts, oil, basil, and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper and process to pesto texture; set aside.
Meanwhile, add penne to the boiling water and using back-of-the-box times as a guide, cook partially covered, and at first stirring frequently to prevent sticking, until just tender, adding corn the last few minutes of cooking. Reserving 1 cup of pasta water, drain penne and return it to the pot.
Add pesto to the penne and toss, adding enough cooking liquid to make moist, saucy pasta. Taste and adjust seasonings. Transfer to each of 4 plates and serve, sprinkling with additional Parmesan, if desired.