Pumpkin Seed Pesto Power!

Pasta with Pumpkin Seed Pesto

During the week, I try to keep it simple. On the weekends I may take two (somewhat) leisurely hours to cook. Towards the end of the week, I start daydreaming about more elaborate meals like Malai Kofta or gnocchiwith a mushroom ragout. Once Monday hits, I have an hour or less for dinner prep.

This one is done in less than an hour. And, when the 8 year-old comes sliding around the corner to ask what’s for dinner and responds with a “Oh GOOD!” upon hearing the menu, I can’t go wrong.

Some Kind of Tube Pasta with Broccoli and Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Adapted from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen

serves 6 generously

1/2 cup hulled green pumpkin seeds (Sometimes I find spicy pepitas (Spanish for pumpkin seeds) in the bulk section at our local co-op. If I use these, I omit the red pepper flakes because they are pretty spicy. Use your best judgement. Another spicy pepita bonus? They are already roasted so no need to bother with that.)
1 1/2 cups packed fresh parsley leaves (Make sure it is flat-leaf. The curly has very little flavor.)

1 small garlic clove, smashed and peeled

1/2 teaspoon (or to taste) hot red pepper flakes (omit if you are using spicy pepitas)

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for the table
sea salt
1 pound rigatoni or other tube pasta (orrechiete also works)
1 pound broccoli, stalks discarded and florets cut into bite-sized pieces
1. Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot for the cooking of the pasta
2. Move an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Spread the pumpkin seeds out on a rimmed baking sheet and toast them in the oven, shaking the pan once or twice to turn the seeds, until lightly browned and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Keep an eye on them because they brown fast.
3. Process the cooled pumpkin seeds, parsley, garlic, and pepper flakes in a food processor, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until the ingredients are finely ground. With the motor running, add the oil in a steady stream through the feed tube and process until thick and fairly smooth. Scrape the mixture into a bowl large enough to hold the cooked pasta. (the Pesto will be very thick.) Stir in the cheese and salt to taste. (Salt the pesto generously; it has to season a pound of pasta and the broccoli.)
4. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Scoop out 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, add the broccoli, and continue to cook until the broccoli is crisp-tender, 1 1/2 minutes. Meanwhile, stir 1/2 cup of the cooking water into the pesto to achieve a saucier consistency. Drain the pasta and broccoli. Add the pasta and broccoli to the bowl with the pesto and toss, adding more water as necessary to moisten the pasta and help spread the pesto. Serve immediately, passing the grated cheese at the table.
I served the with garlic-pepper bread. Bruschetta with Chopped Tomato and Parsley is another side I have considered.
Scott:  A (“This is excellent.”)
Me: A
Luca: A+ (“It is a super great way to combine vegetables with things I like.” (meaning pasta and cheese))
Alia: A (“100% plus a million!”)

9 responses

  1. I have to do this tonight. It sounds amazing and I have almost everything on hand.

    As for Food Processors, I have had Cuisinarts for years and sing their praises. These days even Costco has them (usually).

  2. This looks delicious. If only my child would eat it. Well, she can have plain pasta and the adults will enjoy it.

    I bought a KitchenAid food processor several years ago because it was recommended by Cook’s Illustrated. It’s great.

    • Is it the broccoli, Jen? I am kind of surprised how passionate Alia is about it. I think I bought the KitchenAid on the recommendation Of Cook’s too. We have had ours for a long time. Yesterday the handle of the orginal bowl cracked, but that’s the only “malfunction” we have had.

  3. Pingback: Make It Into a Cake! | Food 365

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