Pesto Pasta with Roasted Broccolini, Cherry Tomatoes, and Bread Crumbs

I seem to be on this pesto kick lately….trying to think of ways to use it so that recipes don’t become redundant. This might be one of the more obvious choices for pesto, seeing that it is used with pasta (whole wheat spaghetti in this case). But with a few extra touches, you can bring it to a whole new level.

The combination of textures here make this such a delicious dish, using ingredients you can find at your local farmers market or at the grocery store. During a recent trip to the farmer’s market I saw some really delicate looking broccolini. Although, even though the stalks were thin, I still have to trim a good amount off because it was too chewy once roasted. Tomatoes aren’t in season yet so I had to get those from the grocery store. Regardless, roasting tomatoes brings out such a nice flavor from them – so it doesn’t matter as much that they are not in season.

For the pesto, I like to use the arugula/spinach mix by Organic Girl, but if you can’t find that, just use arugula by itself. If you make this pesto (or any pesto), please use good quality parmesano reggiano and not the powdered kind. It makes all the difference in the world.

1 pound broccolini, stalks trimmed
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
3 tablespoons bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, divided
5 cups arugula spinach mix (by Organic Girl)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons
Pinch crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400F. While oven is heating, put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Once boiling, salt the water well (2 tablespoons or so), add pasta, and cook until al dente. Reserve a cup of pasta water for later.

Place broccolini and tomatoes on a sheet pan and put about 2 tablespoons olive oil, couple of pinches of salt, pinch of crushed red pepper, and a few grinds of pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes. Check on broccolini after 15 minutes as it may cook before the tomatoes are roasted. If so, remove broccolini and continue to roast tomatoes until the skins just burst.

While the veggies are roasting, go ahead and make the pesto. (Note: You can make the pesto up to a few days in advance if you’d like. If you do, just pour a little olive oil on top once you have put it into a secure container. This will make it keep better. Make sure to refrigerate until you use it.)

Place arugula, 1 garlic clove, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper in a food processor and blend until it looks like a paste. Add parmesan cheese and blend. While blending, pour olive  oil in until it is the consistency that you prefer. You may use more/less olive oil than what I suggested, depending on how you like your pesto. Be sure to taste and add salt if needed.

Once the pasta has cooked, drain and place back into pot. Add 1/2 of the pesto and continue to add until you have as much as you like in there. If the pesto seems dry, add in about 1/4 cup of pasta water at a time until it’s the consistency that you like.

To make the breadcrumb topping, place 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a small pan, once heated, add the garlic and cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes, making sure not to burn the garlic. Then add the breadcrumbs and a pinch of salt, and stir together. Continue to stir and cook until the breadcrumbs are nicely toasted. Set aside.

To serve, put some pasta into a bowl or plate. Add some broccolini and a couple of cherry tomatoes on the side, and top with some of the breadcrumb mixture.




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  1. […] just realized that I indicated in this pesto recipe for arugula pesto to put 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp pepper in the pesto. That is way too much salt […]