When you're not using a homemade pesto, Mollie Katzen prefers the fresh kind available in plastic tubs in the deli refrigerator case (and not shelf-stable pesto, which has less flavor). The pesto must be at room temperature so as not to cool down the pasta, so take it out of the fridge while the pasta is cooking.
The dish tastes just as great cold as it does warm.
Make Ahead: The pasta can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days (check the broccoli, which might become soggy).
Servings: 3 - 4
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3/4 cup store-bought fresh pesto, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon salt (for the pasta water), plus more to taste (optional)
- 12 ounces dried pennette or penne pasta
- 1 large (1 1/2 pounds) head broccoli, tough stem ends discarded and the rest cut on the diagonal into 2-inch pieces
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper
Pour the oil into a large mixing bowl. Add the pesto and whisk until uniformly blended.
Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat; add the tablespoon of salt. Add the pennette or penne and cook according to package directions. When the pasta has about a minute or so left to cook, add the broccoli to the pot. It will cook quickly, will turn bright green and should be crisp-tender. Reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and broccoli in a large colander. Shake to mostly drain (it's okay to leave some water clinging), then add to the pesto mixture in the bowl.
Mix well to coat the pasta and broccoli evenly, adding the Parmesan at the same time until it is well incorporated. Add some of the reserved cooking water as needed; taste and add salt to taste, if desired, along with about 6 grinds of black pepper. Serve the pasta hot, warm or at room temperature. Or transfer to a container, cool to room temperature, cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Adapted from Katzen's "Get Cooking" (HarperStudio, 2009).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.