Traditional basil pesto is one of my favorite pasta sauces, and I’m making a spaghetti pesto, or penne pesto every month or two.  But I’ve recently added a twist to the traditional version, that I’m absolutely loving…Spaghetti with Broccoli Pesto.  Broccoli pesto tastes a bit stronger/more flavorful than the standard basil pesto, and just like the standard, goes great with pasta.  In this recipe, I show you how to make the pesto itself, and then toss it with some quickly seared chicken breast, into some perfectly cooked spaghetti.  The dish if full of flavors, a beautiful vibrant green color, and of course tastes fantastic.  Give it tray, and I hope you enjoy it!

Recipe Overview and Keys to Success

To make the best Spaghetti with broccoli pesto & chicken, just follow these few simple steps:

  1. As I’ve said in every one of my pasta recipes, you gotta make sure to cook the pasta to al dente.  Don’t trust the package time fully, or any other technique, other than tasting.  Try the spaghetti a good minute before the package suggests, and pull it out right at al dente
  2. This recipe loves olive oil, and frankly it’s hard to use too much.  In addition to a good amount in the broccoli pesto itself, toss a fresh drizzle over the finished dish
  3. Don’t cooked the pesto with the spaghetti too much.  As it heats, the pesto will lose color, and change flavor, so when you’re combining it with the spaghetti work quickly, and get it off the heat ASAP
  4. When you drain the spaghetti, reserve some of the pasta water.  Use it, if your spaghetti look to dry, by drizzling it in, which will thin out the sauce a bit.

RECIPE FOR SPAGHETTI WITH BROCCOLI PESTO & CHICKEN

Ingredients (for 2)

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped broccoli
  • 3/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Olive oil – up to a cup
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pinenuts
  • 1/3 lbs of spaghetti
  • 1 chicken breast

Making the Spaghetti Broccoli Pesto & Chicken

  • Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, and drop in the chopped broccoli
  • Cook until the broccoli becomes just tender, and then remove the broccoli to a bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking process and to set the color
  • In the same boiling water, add the basil leaves and cook for 30 seconds, remove and also put into the ice bath
  • Once cooled, remove the broccoli and basil and drain well on paper towels
  • Add the drained broccoli and basil to a blender, along with the garlic, pinenuts, parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper
  • Add about two tablespoons of olive oil to start, and pulse the blender several times to combine the ingredients
  • At this point, you need to decide if you need more olive oil or not.  If the pesto is very thick, drizzle a bit of olive oil in, and blend again.  Continue until the pesto is easily spreadable paste consistency
  • Taste the pesto, and adjust the seasoning and re-blend if needed
  • Sear off the chicken breast until cooked through, and then once cooled dice into bite size pieces
  • As you cook the chicken, bring a pot of salted water to the boil, and when ready add the spaghetti; stir occasionally
  • When the spaghetti is about 2 minutes from al dente, put a large sauté pan on the stove over high heat, and add a couple tablespoons of olive oil
  • Reserve a cup of the pasta water, and then drain the spaghetti and then move it into the heated sauté pan along with a few tablespoons of the pesto (you can freeze what you don’t use)
  • Add the chicken, and then move quickly to toss everything together, and season with salt and pepper
  • If the sauce looks thin you can either add more of the pesto, or some of the reserved pasta water
  • Taste, and adjust the seasoning if needed
  • Serve it up heaping high in a pasta bowl and enjoy!

Wine Recommendation

Broccoli is not the easiest food to pair wine with, but with the addition of the olive oil and parmesan cheese, which add both fat and flavor, I think this spaghetti with broccoli pesto would be great with a lighter red like a Pinot Noir or a Gamy.  Neither wine will be blown away by the pesto and the good amount of acid should help them work nicely with the food.  Enjoy!