spaghetti with broccoli cream pesto

Surely, you didn’t think I was going to stop my hasty populating of the broccoli archives with just one new recipe, right? I mean, sure, the slaw is still a star. The fritters were great. But when your kid likes broccoli, you will always be on the hunt for new and more advanced Methods of Broccoli Implementation. These days, I’ll read a recipe for a cauliflower dish in a magazine and think: broccoli would work here. I had a watercress salad at a restaurant in which the finest dusting of flavorful breadcrumbs clung to every leaf and thought: broccoli. I roasted potatoes with garlic and a little lemon zest and kicked myself: should have included broccoli. I guess you could argue that the obsession has spun off its toddler axis and landed squarely on the mama-ship. These things, they happen.

parmesan, a heap of it
peeling the broccoli stems

And who am I to fight the broccoli love? I started making this… well, I’m going to call it pesto but it’s less a pounded mixture of raw herbs, garlic and cheese and more a tender broccoli sauce. Anyway, I started making it over the summer. It was loosely inspired by this dish I saw on the most stunning blog, one that is in fact dangerous for me to look at because I immediately start to question everything: Why don’t we live in the French countryside? Why haven’t I ever biked home with a cluster of warm-from-the-oven baguettes prepared in the ancient style in my wicker basket? Why don’t I have any heliciculturalist (escargot farmers, of course) for neighbors and why don’t those yelling people down the hall (my actual neighbors) ever bring me freshly-dug morels? Alex, are you reading along right now? Honey, why don’t we have 14 dogs? 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.

chopped broccoli

steamed broccoli, college ceramics
finely chopped onion
broccoli, steaming up my lens
blend until a coarse sauce

Ahem. Maybe I got a little carried away. We were talking about broccoli pesto, yes? I make this with steamed broccoli, a bit of onion and garlic cooked until sweet in butter, and a drizzle of heavy cream. I then blend this mixture until it’s chopped finely enough to be sauce-like, then toss it with pasta and some of its reserved cooking water. The parmesan comes at the end, and you should shower the whole bowl with it; it is the seasoning, punch, and highlight of the dish. This preparation is mellow and wonderful and total toddler bait around here, which means that it’s parent-delighting bait because I know that the dish is matched ounce for ounce in pasta and broccoli. Oh, and you know, grown-ups don’t mind it much either but with us in mind, I’d use more garlic and a good bit of red pepper flakes too. And we’d eat it with wine. And we’d watch out the window as the yellowing leaves whoosh down the busy avenue below and, at least briefly, put thoughts of other idylls aside.

spaghetti with broccoli cream pesto

One year ago: Cumin Seed Roasted Cauliflower With Yogurt
Two years ago: Single Crust Plum and Apple Pie
Three years ago: Lebanese-Style Stuffed Eggplant
Four years ago: Balsamic-Glazed Sweet and Sour Cippoline and Majestic and Moist Honey Cake
Five years ago: Spaghetti with Chorizo and Almonds and Couscous and Feta-Stuffed Peppers
Six years ago: Acorn Squash with Chile-Lime Vinaigrette

Spaghetti with Broccoli Cream Pesto

Note: The sauce is gluten-free and could be used with a gluten-free pasta.

1/2 pound broccoli
1/2 pound dried spaghetti
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced (or, more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
Freshly ground black pepper or pinches of red pepper flakes
4 tablespoons heavy cream
A heap of grated parmesan (about 1/2 cup), to serve

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for your pasta.

Remove broccoli florets from stems and chop into medium florets. Peel stems with a vegetable peeler (I do this so that they cook quickly, plus, I prefer their taste without the tough stem skin.) and slice them into 1/2-inch segments.

Use your pot of future pasta water to steam (by suspending a mesh strainer over your pasta pot and covering it with a lid for 5 to 6 minutes)) or par-boil (for 3 to 5 minutes) your broccoli florets and stems until just tender, then drain if needed and set them aside.

Add pasta to water and cook until al dente, or about one minute less than fully cooked. Before draining pasta, reserve a cup of pasta cooking water and set it aside. Drain pasta.

Wipe out pot so that you can use it again. In the bottom of pot, melt butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Add onion and reduce to medium-low, sauteing it until tender, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another two minutes. Add steamed broccoli, salt and red or black pepper and turn the heat back up to medium-high, cooking it with the onion and garlic for a few additional minutes. Pour cream over mixture and let cook for 30 seconds.

Transfer broccoli mixture and all of its creamy bits at the bottom of the pan to a blender or food processor and blend in short bursts until it’s finely chopped and a little sauce. Don’t worry if it looks dry; that reserved pasta water will give it the sauciness it needs in a minute. (Theoretically, one could also use an immersion blender here inside their pot to make the broccoli sauce, but it might be a bit messy with all of the chunks and small bits.)

Add the broccoli sauce back to the pot with the drained spaghetti and a splash or two of the reserved pasta water. Cook over medium-high for 1 to 2 minutes, tossing the mixture so that it evenly coats. Add more pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. Adjust seasonings to taste, adding more salt or pepper, and scoop into a serving bowl. Shower spaghetti with grated parmesan and dig in.

Do ahead: I make a large batch of the sauce and keep it in the fridge for several days, boiling a little pasta each day for lunch when I make it for Jacob.

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327 comments on spaghetti with broccoli cream pesto

  1. Erin

    I love broccolli! This recipe is so inspiring. I never thought to use broccoli this way; here’s to moving it beyond a humble side dish!

  2. I have to admit, I got distracted by the French blog and have now decided I must buy a baguette each and every morning that is made with fresh yeast (only use fresh!) and I must eat it with little pickles, butter and salami. Naturally.

    1. deb

      WhitMc, Molly — I think I need to start a support group for readers of that blog who are unable to handle the contrast between its charms and their real, occasionally charmless, life.

  3. I refuse to believe that Manger is a real blog. No one can look like that after birthing 4 children while looking after 2 teenage stepchildren, while somehow managing to take the 14 dogs out for their walks. It’s not real. It just can’t be. At least that’s what I’m going to now have to tell myself over and over.

  4. Nicole R

    No! Not fair! I had dinner all planned out and then you had to go and post this! My SO loves broccoli more than anything in the world. You think I’m kidding, but it ranks above chocolate, ice cream, and cheese.

    If I don’t have a food processor OR an immersion blender, am I just being a pain in the butt? I was thinking I could add the pasta water to the sauce at the beginning in order to do it in the blender.

    1. Lucia

      I did mine in the blender without the water and it was really thick. It worked out well in the end, but I think I will add some pasta water in before I blend it next time.

  5. Amy

    Ahh Manger has recently become my latest blog (and life) obsession. I am firmly convinced it has had everything to do with my most recent fanatical phase of wanting every aspect of my life, including my future living situation, to include France. Maybe I’ll make this pasta and dream myself away like you did!

  6. Kat

    MMM – this looks delicious! I wonder if I can get my toddler to eat it! Her toddler bait of choice is tomatoes, in any and all incarnations. Even, on occasion, raw with ketchup on them. Don’t judge me.

  7. Jennifer

    Why, oh why, did you link to that blog? My life will never be the same. In fact, I’m packing up my belongings right now.

  8. nzle

    This reminds me of Laurie Colwin’s Amazing Incredible Broccoli Surprise Sauce! Her adorable essay about it in Home Cooking is totally worth looking up.

  9. I think that this might be the first recipe that I have seen that calls for a “heap” of a particular ingredient. I love using terms like that in recipes. Have you tried making this in a way that is a bit more traditional? Maybe instead of replacing all of the nuts with broccoli, do half and half?

  10. Excellent! My 2 yr old loves broccoli, but I’ve never made it into a pesto (her favorite is roasted broccoli + shrimp). Going to give it a try tonight. Have you tried this with other veggies, like broccoli/cauliflower or broccoli/red peppers?

  11. Sara

    Yum! This sounds great. Do you think it would taste good with pecorino instead of parmesan? My mom makes a pasta dish with broccoli and pecorino and it’s a great combination, but this one sounds way tastier! (shh, don’t tell her I said so!)

  12. Anna

    Deb, have you tried Heidi Swanson’s broccoli pesto recipe from Super Natural Every Day? It uses creme fraiche (which adds a little kick) and it’s just delicious!

  13. Julia

    I’ve used this technique on spinach and especially kale (oh, how I love my kale) but never thought to try it on broccoli. Now there’s another thing to add to my recipe list…

  14. Oh dear. I must warn you Deb. I had that kid. At 3, she was nicknamed “the broccoli monster”. Unfortunately, I got so carried away with things broccoli that I actually managed to turn her off the stuff. Happily after a break (she is 6 now), she eats it again but, alas, she is no longer the monster. I am very keen to try this though because pesto is one of her big loves these days.

  15. Charlene

    My fabulous husband has his own version of this recipy, and made it for supper tonight! Kids love it. Thank you will try this out- delishh

    1. deb

      Laurie Colwin — Love that recipe! Also not sure how I forgot about it because I’ve read all of her books. I guess I hadn’t thought much about broccoli before having a toddler. But I think these things get into our head and bounce around until we have a chance to cook them. Another argument for there being no such thing as an “original” recipe — just a fresh way to talk about it!

      Michal — I haven’t tried it but I see little in the sauce that shouldn’t freeze well.

  16. Joy

    Deb, thank you so much for publishing so many budget friendly and ridiculously delicious recipes. I can’t wait to try this with gluten free spaghetti for my corn and gluten intolerant sister.

  17. laura

    love this pestoy/not sauce! i do a similar one with cauliflower but i roast it first to get a deep flavor and then steam it a little bit to soften before mushing it all together. sadly, i have no blender..but at least i get to pound out the stress of the day :)

  18. Michelle

    This looks very good. Too bad I’m dieting at the moment (food-related blogs = bad idea), but I can’t wait to try it and I bet my whole family will like it… with a little bacon or prosciutto me thinks.

  19. angela

    Can’t wait to try this…served your Pea Pesto over Fettucini last weekend to a skeptical husband (who was thinking he’d be eating leftover pizza after the kids went to bed) and a 2 and a 4-year-old. They all LOVED it!

    thanks for this great looking recipe too!

  20. Kathryn

    Ahh, this is simply perfect timing! I have oodles of broccoli in my freezer that is begging to me joined with cream and cheese! :)

  21. Janae

    Hi Deb, Do you have a rough idea of how many cups of chopped broccoli equals half a pound? I two heads of broccoli in my fridge but I don’t have a scale! Thanks!

  22. Indulge! Broccoli has been my favorite vegetable since I was a baby. And I used to make pasta like this (well, at least it looked vaguely like this) before I knew how to cook broccoli…or anything for that matter. I would love to saturate my pasta with bits of broccoli intentionally!!

  23. Elizabeth

    Looks delicious! Any way around the cream? Have other readers been successful with replacing cream for coconut cream, for instance? Can’t wait to try this!

  24. Never tried broccoli in pesto, even though I love basil pesto. My husband will not survive on broccoli alone in a dish, so I might add more stuff to this (like mushrooms, other vegetables, maybe even some fine bacon). It’s a cool idea to use broccoli this way, though!

  25. So beautifully spoken. I lived in France for a year and I dream about going back all the time, and how I didn’t really appreciate it when I was there, and the like.

    I have a ton of frozen broccoli always on hand, but I get bored of normal tomato sauce pasta dishes. This sounds like a perfect solution :)

  26. Heather

    I make a dairy free version of this with walnuts for my own little broccoli monster. I will avoid linking to Manger until I have a toddler free block of time on my hands.I’m scared!

  27. Jeuno

    It has never occurred to me to peel my broccoli with a vegetable peeler. I know! It’s a vegetable, but I’ve always used a paring knife and cursed the whole project. Especially as my kids, too, are broccoli lovers. Bless you!

  28. But Deb, I love reading your blog specifically because your tiny kitchen in NYC is so much more similar in spirit to my own tiny kitchen in NYC than a grand kitchen in Médoc would be!

  29. I totally make this! Except I’m lazy, and don’t bother with the aromatics or the food processor. Dump the broccoli in a bowl, go a little crazy with your pastry blender, then add the cream, parm, pasta and it’s water. Dinner’s done!

  30. sarah

    I was wondering, is it really considered a pesto since no nuts were in it? I’ve only had pesto w/ nuts. I found out the hard way that I’m allergic to pine nuts b/c they were in a pesto pizza. Can you use something like a cashew instead of the pine nut?

    1. deb

      sarah — Pesto comes from the word pestare which means “to pound,” so I’ve always used that to presume that pesto is more about a pounded pungent mixture of ingredients, usually raw, than a specific recipe. Pesto alla genovese is the basil/pignoli one most of us are familiar with. Nevertheless, I do say in the post that this is really not a pesto — it’s not punchy or raw. But broccoli sauce didn’t feel as descriptive when it has the coarse nature of a pesto.

      Adriana — Ha! I’m sorry, I cannot stay just out of loyalty to my tiny kitchen. :)

  31. This recipe looks fantastic–will definitely give it a go if I can find some broccoli at the farmer’s market on Saturday. I’d never thought of broccoli pesto, but your sweet pea pesto has become a weeknight staple (I always seem to have a bag of sweetlets in the freezer and a wedge of parm in the fridge :) and friends and I even recently discovered how yummy it is spread on toast :) On an unrelated note: I am an interaction designer, and I have to say that one thing I adore about your blog are the ‘archive’ recipes you feature with every post (‘this week a year ago, ‘two years ago’, etc). They are perfect: Recipes I might’ve missed featuring things currently at hand–more ideas for seasonal ingredients I’m likely to be drowning in. It’s just a simple thing but it’s so thoughtful and it’s one of the many things that makes SmittenKitchen a favourite of mine. Cheers Deb–hope to thank you in person when you make it to Vancouver :)

  32. Perfect, however I would leave out the broccoli. I lived in Paris several years after graduating, so I could worry about other things later in life and draw on that. In fact here comes the UPS truck now!

  33. Kenyon

    Dude I discovered Manger about a week ago and literally had exactly the same reaction! New York seems like the best place in the world to be until you see that many pictures of Medoc.

  34. You guys are not alone in your undying love for broccoli. I always look for cook things to do with it too. I used to make a dish just like this all the time – except I didn’t add cream. I guess I got pretty sick of it but it may just be the time to bring it back!

  35. Anna

    I made this tonight, and it was awesome! You wouldn’t think that it would have that much broccoli in it, but it really does have a good serving of vegetables–which still makes it a healthy dish. I used whole wheat pasta to make it even more healthier, but still used the recommended amount of cream since it wasn’t that much relative to how much it makes. One thing I would say about it was that it was on the slightly blander side, even with the parmesan. When I make it again, I will probably use even more red pepper flakes and romano cheese instead for more of a bite. Still–a really great idea for a recipe, and really good. Thank you! (PS, I love your blog!)

  36. amanda

    my toddler won’t eat pasta (the little wierdo), but she loves rice. do you think this would work over brown rice too? i’m trying to sneak in veggies. but it’s hard!

  37. Pam

    My kids love broccoli– thanks to their grandma (thanks mom!) . Ill be making this soon– or my teens will.I am sooo looking forward to your cookbook!

  38. This is a way better-looking take on the pasta and broccoli and lemon that I serve my kids, well, at least once a week. Can’t wait to try it. Also now is clearly the time – “While our kids are still small, our lives still young, our dogs so splendid, our journey is just beginning!” Only, my dog is not splendid. That is, we don’t have a dog. Or fourteen. But I would without doubt love a daily, fresh baguette – maybe that could be my ‘splendid’ part instead. Yum.

  39. I make a similar pasta but add anchovies to the onions and garlic- the picky eater in my family would eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner if he could….

  40. this came across my blog feed today just as i was wondering what to cook for dinner. made a quadruple batch (saving half the sauce for future dinners) thinking that it was probably going to be a hit, and it was. fabulous!!! though i love all SK recipes, these quick and easy dinner recipes are my favs. served it over whole grain spaghetti. the whole grain totally makes negates the calories in the cream, right? yes, i thought so.
    the only change i made was to use 1 onion, instead of the 2 that would be called for when quadrupling the whole recipe. thank you, thank you!

  41. Madeline

    I read about something similar in An Everlasting Meal that I’ve been making quite happily for a while. It’s boiled broccoli, pasta boiled in the broccoli water, and then the broccoli is mashed with a bit of the water, olive oil, lemon and parmesan. Can’t wait to try this now!

  42. This looks awesome and very similar to a broccoli pasta “sauce’ that I saw on a blog earlier in the summer. It is amazing how people can come up with the same idea and just have different delicious variations on a theme.

  43. Row

    Um, so I clicked on the blog link. Thanks Deb… now I want to move to the French countryside too! (Wah! *coughs*) This is a lovely dish and a great new way to enjoy broccoli… will try soon. :)

  44. Leslie

    Nice!!! My son doesn’t mind broccoli either..however, he doesn’t like PLAIN veggies. I thought I was being a really awesome and healthy mom by making his baby food from scratch with all sorts of herbs, spices, cheese etc to make it yummy. However, I ended up shooting myself in the foot, as he now turns up his nose when I put plain carrots/peas/green beans in front of him..sigh. He loves pasta tho, so I love this recipe and you can be sure I’ll be making it tomorrow!

  45. Naima

    Looks delish! I will be certainly trying this, as my 3 year old loves broccoli as well. She calls them little trees. There are also some ery nice broccoli recipes by Ottolenghi, but you probably have his books already on your shelves. Anyway, you forgot to mention on ‘that blog’ that not only does she have baguettes, 4 dogs etcetera but she also has 4 kids, a – I presume gorgeous – photographer husband, has lived all over the world and is herself incredibly beautiful. Enough to truly hate her guts, if she didn’t cook your socks off ;-). So that redeems her in my eyes. Just..

    Naima from Amsterdam

  46. luffymoogan

    Been following you for years but have never commented before. Can I just say, even in fear of being totally cheesed-out, that you are the total inspiration behind me setting up a food-inspired blog. Your stuff is amazing and the site is beautifu. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  47. Oh my gosh, you made me laugh so very hard with your “reflections on Manger”. It is the only blog that brings out the geeky star-struck in me–and I live in Provence which isn’t exactly Crapsville! I actually left a comment the other day: “Could you be any prettier Mimi?”–what was she supposed to respond to that? ;) *me, shaking my head at myself*

    But just to say that you inspire me just as every bit as much Deb. I lived in NYC for 14 years and no what the living conditions are like–heck, we had a gas stove from the 30s in our kitchen!!! I lived in fear of that sucker exploding. But you consistently make food that we want to cook before we even know that is what we want. Real wonderful yummy dishes–that I know for sure has made me a better cook.

    So merci pour tout,

  48. I love making broccoli with pasta and always use it when I can’t find broccoli rabe. When I make it I brown garlic in olive oil and dissolve a few anchovy filets into it. Not sure how this would work with cream and onions, but think it could add some nice depth and it does not taste fishy.

  49. Laura

    I’m so much more delighted by the natural and breezy (but honest) approach you have to your blog, parenthood, photography and NYC. Game over, in my book (not that you wanted to turn this into a contest) from an infamous Francophile.

  50. Today I made Pasta with Cauliflower and Chickpeas in a tomato-ricotta sauce for my sons. I cooked the cauliflower in the pasta steamer AFTER i made the pasta, before sounds even better and lot more energy efficient :)
    My almost 3 year old loves cauliflower more than broccoli.

  51. I absolutely love this recipe, since it’s yummy,healthy and quick to put together! Plus, I’ve just developed a huge passion for broccoli, so I’ll be definitely trying this! And I like the fact that it’s not a real pesto but more like a sauce, because I think this way it’s going to be a lot healthier!
    I’ve recently posted a recipe on my blog that features broccoli: a Broccoli and Tofu tray bake! Go take a look if you want!

    xo, Elisa

  52. meredith

    Just to throw my two cents into the NYC/Medoc mini-debate: the bureaucracy of living in France would have you weeping into your wine glass, wailing into your vine-wrapped quail, and beating your gorgeous husband, myriad children, and dogs over their bonny heads with your baguette. I kid you not. Many intrepid souls have packed up their kitchens and headed for la belle France only to discover the unpalatable truth behind the picture-postcards myth.

    I suggest a weekend upstate to look at the trees and buy some artisanal cheeses, and ask your lovely husband to clip you round the ear when you start going all dreamy. And now that I have delivered a healthy dose of reality, I’m off to find some broccoli.

  53. Katie

    My mom always made broccoli spaghetti when we were kids –
    saute onion with some thyme, boil pasta, blanch broccoli florets in the pasta water just before the pasta finished cooking, drain the lot, add the onions and toss with the zest & juice of a couple lemons and a generous helping of grated parmesan. Loved it!

  54. Amy Mintzer

    Laurie Colwin had a broccoli sauce for pasta (lots of olive oil, no cream) back in the ’70s. John Ash used it in our book COOKING ONE ON ONE.

  55. Susan

    Never point us to lovely blogs again!!! I just spent an hour in France with a beautiful family and their countless dogs and then hopped to her husband’s page cuz they’re such fascinating people. I forgot all about the broccoli and now I have a hankering for a baguette. That all said, Meredith’s comment above got it right. I lived in France for a year. The reasons she cited are part of why I’m back Stateside, but hey- I can dream, can’t I?

  56. Gale

    Found your blog a while back and subscribed because I a)love to cook, b) am always looking for new recipes and inspiration, and c) appear to have my computer glued to my hand so why not subscribe to something that interests me? Your blog is a hit! I love the layout of the recipes, photos, the archived recipes at each entry, etc. In skimming and searching for recipes, I feel we have become friends! Keep up the good work!

  57. MB

    This recipe looks so yummy. My kids love broccoli so they are going to love this. Can’t wait to try! Thanks for sharing all your great recipes and beautiful photography.

  58. Susan

    Reading this brought back memories of grocery shopping with my toddler (now a 21 year old – amazing how that happens). If I turned my head for just a minute, he’d grab broccoli from the bin and bite into it raw. For a long, long, time, it was the staff of life in my kitchen. I guess it’s time to make this dish! Thanks, Deb, for everything.

  59. That looks lovely! Of course now when the neighbors start caterwauling again I will be thinking “Thanks for the morels!” Unfortunately I’ll probably be thinking that quite a bit.

    1. deb

      Kaitlin — Thank you! I actually always forget to populate it.

      meredith — You are so right! I have learned a lot about this from David Lebovitz, and even from Oh Happy Day when her family moved to Paris for a while. My husband jokes that I, as a New Yorker with New Yorker-like expectations of good customer service and short wait times and the bullheaded belief that I am right would literally implode with frustration. Or explode, like an overfilled rage balloon. It’s probably for the best that I love New York too much to leave it. ;)

      Kathy — I haven’t checked Heidi’s book (I have it and love it, though) but it sounds like it’s very close. I would have of course given her credit if it was what I adapted it from (I always, always do). However, in this case, it was the Manger blog I link to and discuss that got the idea in my head this summer.

      amanda — I think it would be great over rice.

  60. Leigh

    First, let me say, I love your blog. Every recipe I have tried is amazing and I am awaiting the release of your book with great anticipation. We have been making a version of this for my sons since they were toddlers, always calling it “Broccoli Stew” after the line from Sandra Boynton’s “Hey! Wake Up!”. Of course, for those familiar with this work, we always changed the “ewwwwww” as written to “deeeeeelicious” and both (the book and the pasta) have always been a favourite.

  61. Patricia

    Broccoli rabe and it’s robust flavour pair well with pasta, but hadn’t thought much about using regular broccoli in a “sauce” with it. Perhaps I will give your recipe a try this evening. The addition of a few red pepper flakes could kick it up a notch. Thanks Deb!

  62. CAM

    Great recipe. Loved your column in this month’s Martha Stewart Living too and can’t wait for my pre-ordered Smitten Kitchen cookbook to arrive in the mail!

  63. Ladotyk

    You dream of France, and I dream of New York! Why aren’t I living in the Big City and riding with my kiddos to the green market on the subway? That Deb, she’s got it made!

  64. I would love to be in the French countryside as well! How romantic would that be to be there with my hubbs? Lovely blog, but I love yours as well and think that you are very inspiring to have me cook with broccoli my least favorite veggie! Going to for sure try this dish!!

  65. Rebeca

    Yesterday, I literally was looking through the recipe index on the site and thought I wonder why there are only two recipes featuring broccoli. Poor broccoli, surely there are more things we can do with you! Surely you can’t be that uninteresting since the two broccoli recipes listed look fantastic and lo and behold the next day a great looking broccoli recipe. I’m so glad that I have all the ingredients to make this tonight, especially since it’s going to be a long day here at work.

  66. Xochi

    Ack! I am now totally in love with Mimi’s site and have officially signed up to receive all of her latest posts. My insignificant life in the burbs of Sacramento is doomed to be replaced by a magical, wine drenched, slightly dark and very earthy life in the countryside of France (whether my fiance likes it or not)! Thanks for the link Deb. :)

  67. Mary

    Love it! I’ve made something similar where I (over)cook the broccoli with the pasta so it disintegrates when drained. Then I toss with an onion/garlic/olive-oil sauce. Making a pesto sounds yummier, and adding cream is divine! Can’t wait to try it!

  68. Kristin

    I read your post and was inspired to make a version from using what I had laying around. In a nutshell I substituted Greek yogurt for the heavy cream, doubled the garlic, added some toasted almonds to the mixture and topped it with some toasted pepitas for crunch on top. The yogurt added a nice zing that helped to bring out the delicate broccoli flavors…yum!

  69. Angela

    this was so yum! I spotted it this morning at work and am enjoying it now for dinner. I think it also would be really amazing and vegan (minus cheese) if you sub cashew cream for the dairy!

  70. Roxlet

    I made this for dinner tonight (pumped up the spices and garlic), and my son — who is almost 17 — said, “Make this a lot.” Clearly, this is a hit with sons of all ages!

  71. Lauren

    I made this tonight and it was amazing! Great way to use up the last of summer’s broccoli. I added some bacon that was hanging around in the fridge, it.was.awesome. Thanks again for all of your great recipes!

  72. Surprise, I actually have every ingredients in my fridge and cupboard before I came across this recipe! I am having a very hard time forcing myself not to get a second helping.. *must resist…..* I love broccoli so much, but my mum never makes it at home.. so glad you have all these yummy recipes so I can go crazy on broccoli while I am away at university!

  73. lee

    As a currently broke musician, this dinner literally made my day/week/month. It is so delicious, easy, and cheap! Mostly, it is just amazingly tasty and I am so, so thankful that you posted the recipe. I am now going to share this with everyone I know.

    You are one talented woman. Thank you for everything you do. Your blog brings me (and the hungry bellies around me) frequent joy!

  74. Girl, there you go again with a broccoli recipe that looks GOOD! what are you doing to me? I can’t continue my child-like hatred of broccoli with you posting all these good lookin recipes. Sheesh!

  75. Karen

    this was excellent! it caught my eye in the email this morning, and I went home to make it with a couple of subs from the fridge: I used tortellini as the pasta, and as I didn’t have any cream on hand, I used some cream cheese and a little milk. we suffered through it :) my husband especially liked the broccoli this way instead of the “big chunks.” thank you yet again!

  76. Melaura

    This looks simple and tasty. How totally weird would it be with crumbled goat cheese on top instead of parm? That’s what I have in the fridge.

  77. Vicki B

    Francis Ford Coppola had a restaurant in Palo Alto a few years ago. My favorite pasta dish sounds exactly like this one only made with artichokes. I’ve never found a recipe for it.

  78. Yes! Thank you! You’re a genius. I had idle, be-headed broccoli in the fridge that frowned at me this morning when I lacked ideas on how to use it. Pesto it is! Take care!

  79. Susan S

    Thanks for another great recipe! Made a tasty, quick dinner last night after a long work day and kid activities. I’m very bummed that tickets are already sold-out for your book tour event in Seattle!!

  80. ElaineL

    Can’t wait to make this! I think you got one thing wrong, though, about the moving to France bit–Fig trees, not plums.

  81. TK

    I love your site, I really really do. Oatmeal pancakes are a staple in our house, and I can’t wait to make this. I have a friend who uses squash and cauliflower as pasta sauces too. so great, since my four year old has decided he doesn’t like tomato sauce anymore (!!!?!?!)

  82. shannon

    just made this for my and my one year old’s lunch (my 3 year old actually gags at the site of green things that are not kale popsicles (raw kale + apple juice + banana in the blender then in a popsicle mold)) and he gobbled it up – i was short on cream so used whole milk and forgot to reserve pasta water so used an extra couple of tablespoons of it. also used the immersion blender in the pot which was perfect (perhaps because of the additional milk). used penne as the little one still struggles with spaghetti. really, really yummy! thanks

  83. I love how you disguise the broccoli into the sauce for the kiddos. We are always looking for ways to include more vegetables into meals.
    @TK – I can’t believe your 4 year old doesn’t like tomato sauce anymore — I pray that doesn’t happen to us! We make a 7 vegetable tomato sauce — both the 1 & 3 year old are none-the-wiser!

  84. We’re big into broccoli over here. We’re also big into pestos… and cream… and pasta. So… yeah, this will definitely be a winner! Can’t wait to give it a try!

  85. Thi

    Thanks for all the toddler tested and approved recipes! Those are the ones I value as I like to cook the same items for us (me and hubby) and our son. Too tired to make separate food so we all eat the same thing. Thanks for sharing.

  86. Laura C

    I hope Book #2 is ALL about parent-toddler friendly recipes like this one. My 18 month old, the pickiest of 17th weight percentil eaters, is scarfing this down right now. Like we’re fixing to take it away or something. More! More recipes like this, please!

  87. Anjali

    This was the first time that I tried a smitten recipe that I didn’t like. Tasted bland even with more garlic and chili flakes. I really wanted to like it though as its healthy. I even like broccoli a lot – this just didn’t do it for me though.

  88. Hadassah

    Felicitation! I made this dish tonight and it was awesome. I loved every bite of it! When a craving hits I always check to see if you have a recipe that can cure it. But this time it was the recipe that cause the craving…lol…I had to make this right away and I’m glad i did! (who craves veggies anyway…hehehe i do!)

  89. Nancymaggie

    I emailed my Hubby this recipe yesterday andd came home today to a very yummy surprise! Thanks Deb for the great eats, can’t wait to meet you in Los Angeles!!!!

  90. Suzanne

    Thank you for making this with only a dash of heavy cream. When I first saw this recipe on my feed, I avoided reading it until now. I just assumed something that scrumptous sounding must have gobs of heavy cream! Then I was telling my mom about your cookbook (it was a bit of a hint-hint for xmas!), and I was trying to explain who you are to her. I mentioned that you typically use healthy ingrediets and don’t overload your recipes with junk just for the sake of it. Then it dawned on me, hey I bet you she made a way to make that pasta recipe not so fatty! You never let me down, Deb. :)

  91. AndreaW

    Oh, boy have I been there with broccoli! Broccoli has always been my daughter’s favorite veggie. And now, at 22, it still is. Anyway, in first grade she wrote a poem called “Ode to Broccoli.” Was even published in the school’s literary journal. What a hoot!

  92. Amy

    We had this for dinner a few days ago as a side with some sauteed liver. It was delicious–and broccoli is one of my least favorite veggies. Thanks so much for the recipe.

  93. Laura Jane

    Made this for dinner last night, and it was a success! I really liked the idea of matching the weight of the broccoli to the uncooked pasta weight– what a great way to make sure you are getting loads of vegetables in a pasta sauce. I took your suggestion and added more garlic and red pepper flakes, and it was really flavorful. Also used whole-wheat pasta, and sauce really stood up well to the heartiness of the whole wheat, which I have found can often overwhelm the flavor of a sauce. I’m very much looking forward to leftovers for lunch in a couple of hours– thanks for posting this!

  94. Claire

    Hey Deb: I tried this the day you posted it, and it’s very refreshing in a “spring” pasta sort of way. One think I might add would be a wee bit of lemon zest. I think that might make the broccoli sparkle even more. I’m hoping to attend one of your signings in California. I haven’t been as excited about a new cookbook in years!

  95. Kim

    I logged in tonight expecting to get the recipe for Rigatoni with Roasted Eggplant Purée (one of my all-time faves) but I saw this recipe and thought – I’ll make this tonight and the rigatoni tomorrow! It was delicious – the kids ate it up. My belly is full and I still have the pleasure of cooking the rigatoni tomorrow.

  96. Darlene

    Delish!!! Made this for dinner tonight with some goat cheese stuffed chicken breast. I did use 4 cloves of garlic, almost a full pound of broccoli and double the cream.. Oh My Goodness, even picky eater hubby loved it. yummm!!!

  97. Zoe

    What have you done?! I have also lost the will to live thanks to the link to that french blog. I knew i shouldn’t have clicked! Argh! Nice broccoli though…I spose.

  98. I made this pasta dish the other night (using half-and-half since that is what I had on hand) in an attempt to get my one year old to eat broccoli. The good news? It worked. He, unlike your son, is not a broccoli afficionado. Anyway, this dish reminds me of a dish I grew up with. My great grandfather in Rome taught the rest of my family members to make “Pasta e broccoli”. We make it with spaghettini. You boil the broccoli and the pasta in the same water (and the broccoli florets are cut really small). You drain the pasta and broccoli, warm up some olive oil, saute some garlic, return the pasta to the pan with the oil, toss, and season with salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. The only difference between our dish and yours is the cream.

  99. I have made this exactly as stated (well, I used some cream cheese diluted with milk instead of cream but close enough!) and I cannot believe how delicious it is! I had it first plain with penne, then spread on toasted bread and topped with a fried egg then with linguini and prawns. Just superb. I think those who have found it bland have not seasoned it right, i.e. super salty pasta water, thinning the pesto out with said salty-water in the blender + adding that half teaspoon of salt. It’s almost *too* salty but is perfect once mixed with pasta. Awesome :)

  100. kate

    this was delicious and super easy. i added a bit of the pasta water prior to blending and used the immersion blender. worked great and 4 fewer pieces to wash…no dishwasher here either! thanks, and looking forward to your boston tour stop!

  101. Christina

    This was so yummy! Big hit with my 3-year old son too. We added chicken to round out our dinner, but followed your recipe exactly before that last minute addition. Easy and delicious!

  102. Jess

    I used the broccoli sauce as the base for pizza. The kids (6&3) ate all but two slices. I mixed a cube of garlic scape pesto into the broccoli and added goat cheese for the grown-ups, and that was great too.

  103. Since the weather turned chilly, creamy, comforting dishes are all I’ve been craving. This looks perfect. And totally justifiable since, after all, there is a bunch of broccoli in there. Right? Right.

  104. Jaime

    I have to make this immediately for my broccoli-loving 13 month old. She seemed rather put out this evening when she was served ordinary steamed broccoli – but she devoured it between shouts of “nom nomnomnom!” Maybe I’ll have her help pick some wild mushrooms from our property (we don’t have morels, but chanterelles might be in season by then) and bring them to your Santa Cruz book signing to show her gratitude.

  105. it’s funny how “the grass is always greener” theory came up in your article. you read “Manger” and wanted to be in her kitchen and I read “Smitten Kitchen” and want to be in your kitchen! :)

  106. Sally

    Thank you for this recipe, Deb. Made this tonight and it was truly yummy. Now.. I’m gonna have to cop to using frozen broccoli but I found myself in one of those “make dinner quick, but what is there to cook” situations; looking at a bag of broccoli florets in my freezer. The image of this pasta just popped in there and I had to make it. Upped the garlic, and sprinkled a good bit of red pepper flakes while sauteeing the onions. Used whole wheat spaghetti and half and half in place of the cream. It was a hit!! I have to say that the frozen broccoli in a steaming bag made it even more convenient. When I make this again, and I will, I’ll probably just put the fresh broccoli in a microwavable steaming bag and just nuke it for even less to clean.

  107. Kelly

    Made this tonight and it was very good and fairly quick. I stumbled upon this recipe when searching for a spinach lasagne recipe. Then I remembered that a friend forwarded me a recipe from this blog for homemade ricotta cheese. After homemade tortillas, the ricotta from this site is my favorite food. EVER. More than dark chocolate chunk brownies. If you have not tried the ricotta, you are missing something sublime!!!!!

  108. Robyn

    So delicious! The only thing I changed was adding about 1/4 cup pine nuts to the pot at the same time as the onions before blending. One of my new favorite pasta dishes!

  109. Ashley

    Verdict from my two year old: “I yike dis a yot!”… Also, he declared the crackly banana bread “NUMMY!” ….. Can’t wait ’til you come to Portland!

  110. jackie

    I think the woman earlier who said Manger is fake might be right.
    The more I read that blog, the less I believe!
    Can’t wait to try the recipe.

  111. Thank you for the recipe! I made it last night and everybody loved it, especially my little one (20 months), who scooped it down in big heaps. With pasta dishes, he often picks out the pasta and we feed him the sauce, but not for this recipe. He headed straight for the broccoli.
    Also – after finally checking out the website you are talking about, I have found out that “manger” is the French verb and not the English noun…

  112. Steph

    This was perfect! I doubled the broccoli and onion (tripled the garlic!) for a higher veggie to pasta ratio, and instead of cream I mixed a few tbsp milk with a few tbsp cream cheese that needed to be used. Don’t have a food processor but do have an immersion blender (bizarre, yes) so I added the pasta water right to broc mixture and blended in the pot. It worked just fine. The sauce takes well to whole grain pasta; in fact I found that the wheaty and broccoli flavors complemented each other nicely. Thanks for the inspiration, Deb!

  113. Naomi

    Made the recipe and on the second night I used the sauce with some whole wheat macaroni and grated in some cheddar. It made a fantastic baked mac ‘n cheese.

  114. Rebekah

    Deb! I heard you speak yesterday for the Book Buzz on behalf of Random House… you started talking about broccoli and I thought YES! I have so much in my fridge right now… and immediately took to this recipe. But, after a long day of indulging in your yummy treats at the conference, I could not muster up the strength to go to the store for cream… and chanced it with greek yogurt… turned out alright! Rather tangy but still delicious, one day I will go for the creamy version and I will probably never look back…

  115. Caterina

    You are a rock star Deb! Best broccoli recipe yet (and I am a huge fan of your broccoli slaw). Made this for a friend and she demanded the recipe for herself and her friend in France. Can’t wait to meet you in Toronto.

  116. Tina

    I went home on Tuesday night with grandiose plans of making this, only to discover I was out of both butter and parmesan cheese and the cream wasn’t smellin’ so good. What to do when your heart is set on broccoli pesto and you just can’t face walking the 10 blocks back to the store after you’re FINALLY in for the night? I’ll tell you: Follow the recipe but use olive oil instead of butter to soften the garlic, and a bit too much of it at that. When the garlic is tender and the oil hot, pour it on top of the half the broccoli and use the immersion blender. It emulsifies into a gloriously creamy sauce. I then added the rest of the broccoli and blended further to allow for texture. This ended up being one of the best vegan dishes I’ve ever tried, so I can’t wait to do it again with ALL of the listed ingredients!

  117. Ladotyk

    Have you ever considered adding a recipe section for “Jacob’s Favorites”? I love getting toddler friendly ideas for my own little rugrat!

  118. Jane

    Super super good. It tasted a little bland at first–I think I over cooked the broccoli :C –so I threw in some oregano and about 2 tsp of champagne vinegar. The vinegar gave just enough of an edge to the dish to off set the cream. SO GOOD.

  119. Marco

    I am Italian and need to make a little note about this nice recipe: we DON’T cook pasta, dry it and set aside while we finish to prepare the dressing… Pasta must be cooked, dressed and eaten. So I suggest to prepare first your dressing and then pasta, if you need some water from the pot where you boiled pasta (this water is rich in amid released from pasta while cooking and helps your dressing to be more creamy) you can add it to your dressing just before draining. I hope this helps…

  120. Awesome! In Italy, they often a add a touch of anchovy paste to the garlic and red pepper flakes while they are simmering in the oil… the fishy garlicky spicy bit goes really nicely with the broccoli. :) Looking forward to trying it like this – I’ve made it with chunks of sauteed broccoli but never thought to pesto-it. Thanks!

  121. Suzanne

    OK, we just had this. I’ll be honest, it’s not my fav SK recipe. Maybe I made it wrong? It wasn’t creamy at all… just, kind of like mashed broccoli. Don’t get me wrong, I ate my whole dang bowlful of it; it just wasn’t exactly what I expected. I’m saving the leftover sauce and contemplating some sort of rice casserole cheesy business with it.

  122. Whosthatdog

    I came to your site today to find your oatmeal/chocolate chip/pecan cookie recipe and found this on the front page. Our five year old ate two bowls which is pretty rare for anything this green. I didn’t have cream so I used milk. I thought it was great but my husband said to make it creamier next time. We’re having the cookies for dessert. Love your blog! I love that there are healthy recipes like this and awesome baked goods. I’ve made a handful of your recipes and haven’t found a dud yet.

  123. a. uli

    Delicious! My kids and I loved this dish! Perfect flavor and texture. I topped this dish with sauteed mushrooms and bacon the following evening for leftovers. I will definitely make this again for my family. Delicious and it made us all feel good too!

  124. Katy

    I don’t have any sort of food processor so I just wacked it in the blender on “pulse” setting and it worked a treat! Added some chili flakes, left out the onion, and added a bit of bacon and some chorizo. Amazing!
    My partner is the one who usually does the cooking and he was very impressed with how it turned out! We both went back for seconds.
    I would never have thought of using broccoli in this way, but I will definitely be sending this on to my family!
    Thank you for the recipe, I’m going to try some more of yours as I’ve pinned a whole bunch of them but never managed to get up the courage to make them.

  125. ilona

    Just made this. Really light and tasty. I added an extra 2 cloves of garlic, a pretty healthy whopping of red pepper flakes, and then in the food processor I added a small handful of pine nuts and a drizzle of olive oil. So good! Might be good with some chopped cherry tomatoes mixed in too?

  126. Amy

    This was amazing. It surely will become part of our regular rotation. I would probably double the amount of pesto per same amount of past a next time. Aside from the pasta itself, I found the recipe pretty healthy, with little oil/fat compared to many other pasta and pesto recipes (small amount of cream per person, small amt of oil and butter). Thanks for, once again. enhancing life at our family’s dinner table!

  127. Tricia

    Yum! I made this for dinner tonight and will eat the rest for lunch(es) this week. Simple and delicious. I used whole wheat pasta to add some more good things! I love this as a healthy, meatless alternative! Thanks for another keeper! I also love your spaghetti and chickpeas recipe. Super flavorful and oh so good!

  128. NancyR

    Just made this for dinner tonight – excellent! I made a triple batch, and am freezing part of it – i’ll try to report back how it makes out in the freezer. Hubby and i loved the dish, though the kids (3 and 5) didn’t – no surprise there, they don’t like anything green!

  129. kcsnedah

    Literally just finished scarfing this down for lunch. I’ve been slacking on the veggies lately and craving pasta like mad, 2 heads broccoli in the fridge needing use and just a few minutes til I have to leave.

    This was good. I made it exactly as written except half & half for heavy cream (it’s all I had). I wanted a little more protein, so I topped it with lemon pepper sauteed shrimp. It was really good, but even with the parmesan, it was missing something, so I added some left over back from breakfast. That was absolutely perfect. It’s likely my parmesan isn’t as awesome as yours, too. Next time I’ll definitely add red pepper flakes.

    I have friends who rarely eat vegetables. I have no idea why, but they don’t. I think next time they come over, I’ll serve them this (maybe with a chicken sausage?) and see how it goes!

  130. Erin

    Made this last night. DELICIOUS! Very simple and pretty hard to mess up. I forgot to save out some pasta water and just used regular water and it came together just fine. Don’t skimp on the garlic or salt!

  131. Nicole

    This was Sunday night dinner for us. I prepped the pesto in advance per your suggestion. I topped with grana padano since thats what I had around and had roasted brussel sprouts on the side. Oh, and I tried using my immersion blender in the pot. Big mistake. ended up transferring to the blender jar. Should have listened to you :)

  132. Vanessa

    A good friend put me on to this site last year, and I have made good use of it. I tried this recipe on a whim, because I had all the ingredients laying around. It was amazing. I was a bit wary about so much broccoli, but like everything else I’ve tried on this website, I loved it! Small note: I didn’t have cream so I used plain yogurt and milk. I also ended up foregoing the pasta water. Thanks so much for all the great meals, Deb!

  133. Debbie

    For anyone who’s curious, I subbed skim milk for the cream (it’s what I had), and it was still great. There’s butter in there anyway…

    Deb, thanks again for the awesome recipe. I can’t wait for the book!

  134. Ines


    Just wanted to let you know that I made this for lunch today and my Italian born and bred husband proclaimed it “Excellent!” and was dying to know where it came from!! The kids thought it was great too :-)

  135. shutzpeach

    I made this for my 16-month-old twins for lunch today. I used macaroni instead of spaghetti and stirred in some black beans at the end for some protein. It was a big hit with kids and grownups alike!

  136. I made this for supper for the first time tonight, and it was absolutely delicious. Unfortunately, even though I kept reminding myself, I still managed to drain the pasta without saving the water (distracted by making sure my 11-month-old was safe!). To loosen the sauce, I added just a touch of 1% milk. I’m sure pasta water would be better, though :)

    I love the delicate, yet complex flavor of the sauce! I kept thinking, “maybe next bite, I’ll add some parmesan,” but ended up eating the whole bowl without adding cheese :)

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe. I will definitely be making it again!

  137. Barbara

    Yes, I make this often but without onions but with chopped pinenuts and ansjovisch and I love using those orriechettas as theyre like little spoons as the pesto gets stuck to them.

  138. I heard you interviewed on NPR so I ran to the computer and looked up your website. After a few hours of perusing I have decided that you’re brilliance and talents are about to change our lives hence forth. I am giving away all of my cookbooks today!
    Thank you for sharing.

  139. Harriet

    I made this a while ago and remembered it today as I had a nice lot of broccoli. Only thing I didn’t have was parmesan, or any other cheese apart from goat cheese. So I sliced up a bit of that and added it to the sauce before blending — delicious. Love your blog and your recipes!

  140. victoria

    Love. Didn’t have broccoli, so I used baby kale. Also, no heavy cream, so I made a cashew cream, added a little nutmeg and total yum. Thanks for your wonderful recipes.

  141. Just made this last night with ricotta ravioli instead of a long pasta. Delicious…and maybe EVEN better next day cold with a little lemon juice. Perfect summertime pasta salad, which is right now down here in Argentina! As always, a winner!

  142. I LOVE THIS! I’ve made it at least 3 times in the last month because it’s so yummy. It’s also super easy. I like to make a big bowl for my husband and I and then drink wine and watch Netflix. It’s super for these short, cold days.

  143. Gal Steiner

    Huge fan of this one. I made your oven-roasted tomatoes and tossed them into the pasta after it was all mixed together, and oh boy it was delicious.

  144. Made this tonight, and it was so good. I didn’t have heavy cream, so I used sour cream mixed with a little whole milk, and added a squeeze of lemon juice. Mmm. Thank you, thank you, for all your wonderful recipes.

  145. cristina

    Made this tonight as a quick pre-noreaster diner and I would def’ly make it again! I used half&half instead of cream and probably added a little more salt and ~2 TBSP of pine nuts. I like this (and the SK book’s cauliflower pesto) as winter alternatives to basil pesto.

  146. Randi

    We are broccoli fiends in this house but I think I undersalted it (my biggest cooking shortcoming). I also added about 6 times the garlic and doubled the sauce because we like to cook a pound of pasta for lunch leftovers. Somehow 1pound of pasta was about 3 pounds short of the amount needed for the sauce I made. OOPS! I’ll just have to try again.

  147. Mooshbag

    I made this for my 3 year old earlier and ehe said it was ”really yummy”. She nearly cleared the plate, which is rare, and didn’t have enough room for pudding…which is unheard of.

    Thanks very much for sharing.

  148. deb

    You start the recipe by boiling water for the pasta. You then use it (or it’s steam) to cook the broccoli, before its used for the pasta.

  149. Nikki p

    Just ate this for lunch with a big glass of red wine! I added some tomato pasta sauce that I had leftover from making homemade pizza and it was simply delicious. Thanks. Can’t wait to wow my vegetarian friends with this as a simply mid-week dinner.

  150. Tina Bee

    I made this last night (with penne since I had a box open). I’m not a fan of broccoli, but I’m trying to eat more green veggies, and I had a good feeling about this recipe. AH-MAZ-ING! That needs to be bolded and like 15 font sizes bigger. AH-MAZ-ING! I considered running to the store tonight to get more broccoli just to make it again :)

  151. Nicole

    I made this last night and here are my notes: it is a decent mid week easy meal, a nice change from pesto. I used an immersion blender, it worked but it was a bit fussy to get everything blended since the sauce is so dry. It also made the sauce creamier and lighter in color (I think pastel green is a less appetizing color). Next time I will use the food processor. I upped the garlic to two cloves and used a heavy pinch of red pepper too, both would do again. This to me is a nice recipe to change up the way we use the broccoli we get in our CSA box (also, since we had some leftover basil from our box going bad, we tried some chiffonaded on top of a second helping, it was a good addition too but definitely changed the dish and you lost the subtle flavor of the broccoli)

  152. Emily C.

    We live in Brooklyn and have tons if snails in our back garden if you’re interested ;)
    Trying this tonight. With some carrots as we have about 7 lbs!

  153. Lyndi

    Made this last night and it turned out wonderful! My boyfriend rarely requests me to cook a specific recipe and he happened to ask for this one after seeing it as a recommended reading on google reader. The pasta turned out beautiful! I made a few alterations — used 1% milk combined with some greek yogurt instead of heavy cream; added some fresh oregano and basil to the food processor + about 1/2 cup of walnuts to substitute for the missing fatty flavor left out by omitting the heavy cream; and added some sauteed mushrooms to the finished dish. Combined with some homemade whole-wheat olive oil herb bread and an eggplant caponata (and of course a glass or two of red wine) it was a very successful meal!

  154. Tucker

    My toddlers and I adore this meal! Thank you for sharing it with us! Unfortunately I have to omit dairy for health reasons for a while (curses!). I am interested to know if either of the dairy-free suggestions (walnuts or cashew cream) work? If so, how does one go about the substitution? It’s a long shot but I figured it could not hurt to ask!

  155. Stacy

    This was sooo good! Made almost as is, only added parm into the pesto. Put on fusilli and topped with grilled shrimp. This would be a awesome dip or sandwich spread or to eat by the spoonful. Loved it! Thanks Deb!!

  156. Lisa

    Yum yum yum!! We loved this. I can’t seem to follow a recipe word for word, but I didn’t stray too far this time… I skipped the cream and topped the finished product with Meyer lemon olive oil. Thanks!

  157. Hilary

    Worked like a charm. My broccoli-eschewing toddler devoured the pesto and even my broc-hating husband finished a plate and declared it “not bad.” (I love broccoli so much we’re in a first-name basis :)

  158. Hilary

    Oh, I should mention that I don’t normally stock heavy cream, so I added a few oz of goat cheese instead, which contributed a different flavor than the original but was mighty tasty.

  159. Adriana

    I have made so many of your recipes, I’ve lost count. I don’t know why I had not tried this one before. THANKYOU!! My son just had his broccoli her without any complains : )

  160. anne

    So I made this yesterday and it was really delicious. The balance of flavors was just right. My husband and I polished it off. Only comment is that my pesto was really not that nice green color I see in your photos. It turned into a grey-ish color that was totally unappetizing. The only thing I changed is I used frozen broccoli, not fresh. What do you think might have caused that weird color?

  161. Sarah

    I made this last night and it was fabulous! The only downer is that I think I used too much broccoli and should have increased the amount of onion and garlic. But that’s my fault, not the recipe’s.

    Anne – my thought is maybe that they veggies were steamed too much? Broccoli can get kind of yellow-y if over-steamed, which when paired with the cream and butter, might have turned it gray?

  162. Mira

    Made this last night and served with homemade gnocchi. I used nutritional yeast instead of parm and topped with goat cheese. Delicious! Just make sure to have a toothpick on hand if you’re not okay with having green teeth!

  163. Beth

    Delish! Made this tonight and every one of my picky eaters went back for seconds. I didn’t feel like dealing with the Cuisinart so I roughly chopped the broccoli into little bits before steaming and just mixed it all in with a little extra cream and pasta water. Just as lovely and definitely a crowd favorite!

  164. sarah

    It was definitely an uphill battle with an immersion blender. Wound up transferring the business anyway. I’ve also been having some deep thoughts regarding roasting the broccoli first. I feel like it would be super ugly, but possibly delicious.

  165. Elizabeth L

    I’ve made this several times now, so much that my own modifications are routine. I add more cream to smooth it out, then blend it together with a handful of basil leaves and a bunch of grated parmesan and Romano. I use it on pasta and as a sauce on pizza topped with shredded Italian blend cheese and diced pancetta. My 18 month old goes crazy for this stuff (and your broccoli cheddar soup, but won’t touch plain broccoli)! thank you so much for adding this recipe in our repertoire!

  166. Kim

    I love following you on Instagram because it gives me a chance to explore your archives. I’ve been mostly a sweets smitten fan, but am loving your savory recipes. To the person who suggested roasting the broccoli–GENIUS. To the person who added mushrooms–SOO SOO GOOD. I can’t wait to make this again and try some of the other variations that readers have suggested!

  167. Natalie

    I saw this on Instagram yesterday–how did you know I needed to use up some leftover cream and broccoli? I made a double batch of the sauce and my immersion blender worked just fine to puree it in the pot. The dish was delicious, but the best part was the discovery of a pesto alternative that my fiance (who is allergic to pine nuts) actually likes and can eat.

  168. Helen

    I’m a long time fan of this one! I always double so we can have leftovers. This week we decided to try it on my 10 month old who is just beginning to want nothing but finger food. We subbed spaghetti noodles with mini bow tie pasta and it was SUCH A HIT! The bow ties seem to hang on to the sauce a little better than the spaghetti noodles and we had our first family meal all enjoying the same thing. Thanks for the great work Deb!

  169. Hillary

    I have been reading your site for years and it’s the first place I turn to for a recipe, but I’ve never commented. Until today! Thank you, thank you, thank you for this recipe! My green-vegetable-fearing 18-month-old son devoured this pasta, and so did we!

  170. Serena

    Thanks for the recipe. This is great!

    For a healthier alternative to heavy cream, I used a ripe avocado (3 for $1 here in LA) in the blender with the cooked broccoli (no cream or butter) and it turned absolutely rich & creamy.

  171. I made a batch of the pesto and froze it. After defrosting and combining with fresh cooked pasta, there was a ton of stickage on the bottom of the pot…I added quite a bit of pasta water but finally had to take the pot off the heat. Is this just not a good freezer recipe? Or is it okay to combine the spaghetti and re-heated sauce off the heat?

  172. Maria

    I have been looking for good vegetarian recipes to try cut back on our meat consumption but my husband is a hardcore carnivore. I made this pasta tonight and I’m proud/embarrassed on his behalf to admit he ate 3 bowls. I loved it too! Thanks, Deb!

  173. I’m all about trying anything that is theoretical. Indeed, it got a bit messy with the immersion blender (ABORT! ABORT!). Food processor is the way to go. Awesome sauce – thumbs up from my monkeys!

  174. glee

    Deb, your posts just make me laugh. And your recipes are so good. If my husband already didn’t make me laugh and cook every night, I might be over the moon for you!

  175. Kristen

    I hate to be contrarian to the comment above me, but I went for it with the immersion blender and it was complete success! I did add a splash of the pasta water in before pureeing – maybe that helped?
    Either way, so good! And easy! Definitely will be part of our regular rotation.

  176. DianaW

    Sounds really familiar – except that I don’t bother with the onion or sauteing and I cheat by using garlic puree. Forgetting the pasta and the blending too, it makes a great broccoli entree.

  177. Dami

    This sounds really really good! I might add some toasted pecans or pine nuts to the pesto or throw on just before serving.

  178. Laura in CA

    Have only made the sauce so far but will eat over pasta later. Mine was already mushy and saucy from the pan, needed very little pulsing in the blender, and the flavor was SO good! Can’t wait to eat this later!

    1. Emily

      Fantastic! My 3 year old had no idea the green was broccoli and ate 2 plates. Veg consumption is low so this was a major victory. It’s also plain delicious, the adults loved it too.

  179. Laura

    This was divinely delicious. Added a bit of dried basil with the onion to make it slightly more pesto-y. A keeper, and soooo easy.

  180. Michelle

    Made this for dinner tonight. I used fresh steam-in-bag broccoli, and I forgot to save some pasta water, so I used vegetable broth in it’s place. I doubled the pesto portion, and I’m glad I did – I think it would’ve been too dry otherwise. I also added shredded Italian cheese to it, for more flavor. The family loved it!

  181. Cara

    My toddler also loves this. I have made it many times but next time I think I might try it with spirals or other noodles that are easier for him to pick up by himself than spaghetti. I totally use my immersion blender (the lazy way) and it works great. Easy and delicious! Thanks for another awesome recipe that is now in my regular cooking rotation.

  182. CarolJ

    I discovered late this afternoon that due to a grocery list malfunction I didn’t have the main ingredient for tonight’s planned dinner. A survey of the refrigerator determined that what I did have was broccoli, and a search of my online recipe file brought up this recipe, saved, no doubt, right when it was posted but unaccountably (as I love all the ingredients) never yet made. Many thanks for coming to the rescue. It was delicious.

  183. Alexandra F

    Probably one of my favorite pasta recipes so far! The kids weren’t as in love with it as me but I don’t mind giving them tomato sauce…. more broccoli pesto for me!

  184. Lara

    I know this is an old post, but I came across it again and I need to say this: Yours is a blog that normal people can read, enjoy and use in their daily, busy, aggravatingly stressful lives of jobs, children and remodelling a house, while still having good, tasty, healthy food on their plate at least a few times per week. Plus, you are the person I would like to meet if I was asked to chose. Mimi seems like a great cook and all, but the blog is too much of a fantasy. And three-day cooking workshops for 2,500 € without accommodation? Hello? I’d rather have some of your lovely broccoli pasta and toast to you with a glass of white wine. xx Lara

  185. Chelsea

    Made this with spinach instead and it was excellent! Added the spinach with the onions and garlic so didn’t have to cook separately. I didn’t measure, well, anything, but used my stick blender with minimal spatter. Also did not require any more liquid, likely due to above lack of measuring other ingredients. Added a bit of lemon juice at the end as well. Yay for a fast and real-feeling dinner.

  186. Kate

    Yum yum. I love the way the onions play off the broccoli and my one year old loved it too. We don’t tend to keep cream in the house, but as a toddler household we do have whole milk and I used 7T for a doubled recipe–so slightly less than the cream called for–and it worked great. I did not need any pasta water to loosen. Any more would have been too much, I think.

  187. Margot

    Thought it might be helpful to add that this works really well with frozen broccoli and it was very quick because I didn’t even really need to cook the broccoli. Also I subbed oat milk for cream and earth balance for butter — a delicious vegan dish!

  188. Kb

    One of my favorite easy dinners. To make it a bit quicker I do this:
    —start the pasta water (add pasta as soon as I notice water boiling)
    —chop onion and garlic, get onion going in small pan with butter
    —clean and chop broccoli, then steam in the microwave
    —set up food processor

    Carry on pretty much as Deb has written from there. :)

  189. Your style is really unique compared to other people I’ve read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this web site.

  190. Kate

    Thought I’d add that I ordinarily save broccoli stems and freeze them, and one of my favorite uses is in this recipe. Additionally, I frequently have leftover cream/milk I need to freeze before I can use it all. In these regards it is a great zero waste dinner! The broccoli flavor would probably be more pronounced with the inclusion of florets.

  191. TennD

    Made this and would make again as everyone liked it but with a few modifications
    -added some italian seasoning blend, fresh herbs would be nice but I was too lazy
    -more salt
    -generous amounts of lemon zest at the end really was great
    Great way to use up stems and the leftover less-appealing bits from the microwave broccoli bags we use a lot for our kids as easy veggies. I used my immersion blender very carefully and it was fine.

  192. Jennifer

    I’m trying to cook more veggies for my kids, slowly, slowly. This was alongside dino nuggets, (non-threatening mom-ploy) and they ate it! Made it pretty chunky with way more veg than pasta. Looking forward to the leftovers for lunch.

  193. Chelsea

    This is such a quick and easy way to use up a bunch of broccoli! This made such a luxurious dinner and was even delicious as cold leftovers the next day.

  194. Betsy

    This came up after hitting “Surprise!” in the grocery store parking lot and I’m so glad it did! We all loved it and it’s now part of our dinner rotation. 😊

  195. Tia

    My family questioned my judgement in making this but they all changed their tune once they ate it! Very tasty. Pasta came out perfectly al dente with the method also. Next time I would add more black/red pepper. It definitely could use some more kick. Curious if anyone has tried integrating pine nuts or some other nut , similar to a traditional pesto?