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Image / Living / Food & Drink

Instant dinner: Donna Hay’s family-friendly, extra healthy pesto pasta


By Meg Walker
17th Feb 2022
Instant dinner: Donna Hay’s family-friendly, extra healthy pesto pasta

Full of fresh greens and lots of flavour, this pasta dish will please the whole family.

Pasta and pesto is our go-to for the mid-week dinner panic – it’s fast and tasty but for an even healthier version why not try this cheesy pesto with a twist. Full of fresh greens and lots of flavour, this pasta dish will please the whole family.

 

Ingredients
Serves 4-6

  • 2 small heads broccoli (500g), roughly chopped
  • 80ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 375g orecchiette (or your favourite pasta)
  • 45g slivered almonds or pine nuts
  • 40g basil leaves (the star of pesto)
  • 25g mint leaves (a fresh twist)
  • 25g flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tsp finely grated lemon rind
  • 60ml lemon juice
  • 80g finely grated Parmesan
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste


Method

Place the broccoli in a food processor and pulse until it resembles grains of rice (try 5 bursts of 3 seconds each).

Place half the oil in a large deep-sided non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the broccoli and cook, stirring with a spatula, for 3-4 minutes or until it’s almost soft but still bright green. Remove from the heat.

Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water, stirring once with a spatula, for 8-10 minutes or until just soft.

Place the almonds, basil, mint, parsley, lemon rind and juice, the Parmesan and the remaining oil in the food processor and process into a rough paste. Pour it into the pan with the broccoli, scraping the sides with a spatula.

Carefully reserve 125ml of the pasta’s cooking liquid. Place a colander in the sink and, wearing oven gloves, pour in the pasta to drain. Place the hot pasta and the reserved liquid into the pan with the pesto. Place over low heat, add some salt and pepper and stir until heated through and combined.

Divide the pasta between serving bowls and top with some extra Parmesan to serve, if you like.

Extracted from Basics to Brilliance Kids by Donna Hay (Harper360, approx €23).