Best. Broccoli. Ever.

The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.

The Reason:

I’m not sure how Sara happened on this recipe to begin with, but it’s definitely THE way to prepare broccoli. The first time we made it, it almost got eaten before even landing on the table. There are never any leftovers.

The Journey:

This has been a slowly evolving recipe.

The original recipe was just for the broccoli, which was amazing enough, and we couldn’t get enough of it. However, we don’t really eat a lot of side dishes on a regular basis. On an average night I’m willing to put some effort in on an amazing main dish, but I don’t have the energy left over to put work into sides as well. Maybe some reheated corn and that’s about it.


However, one day Sara sort of smashed it into a pasta recipe and it really became one of our go-to meals. Just the broccoli as-is with pasta is awesome enough, but then you throw in some roasted walnuts and crushed red pepper (which kind of goes with everything, no?) and you’ve got something *amazing*. Plus the walnuts give it a little more staying power.

spicy broccoli


The broccoli is best when it has little blackened spots on it. It’s not burned, I promise! Also, go with the fresh shredded parmesan. For some reason, on this recipe in particular, it really makes a world of difference.

roasting broccoli

The Verdict:

Honestly, it’s hard to get something this delicious that is healthier than this. What more could you ask for? If you can manage to fend off the savages long enough, it’s great as a left-over as well.

healthy pasta

The Recipe:

As a meal:

Recipe inspired by Real Simple.

  • 1 package whole wheat pasta (we usually use spirals)
  • 2 bunches of broccoli
  • 2/3 cup walnuts
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons of butter (to taste)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 400
  2. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
  3. Meanwhile, on 2 rimmed baking sheets, toss the broccoli, walnuts, oil, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  4. Roast until the broccoli is tender and slightly browned, 20 – 25 minutes
  5. Toss the pasta with the broccoli mixture, butter, and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water
  6. Sprinkle with the parmesan & lemon juice before serving

As a side dish:

Recipe from Farmish Mama.

  • 2 bunches of broccoli
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic
  • ~1 tablespoon of lemon juice (about half a lemon, lightly squeezed)
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 425
  2. Cut broccoli into bite-sized florets
  3. Slice garlic and toss in a bowl with the broccoli
  4. Toss the broccoli and sliced garlic with the olive oil and season with salt
  5. Spread it all out on a baking tray making sure they aren’t touching and let it roast 20 – 25 minutes or until you get lots of nice brown roasty spots
  6. Take it out of the oven and squeeze a lemon all over the broccoli and grate some good quality, fresh parmesan cheese all over it

Artichoke and Walnut Pesto Pasta

The Reason:

Well, we really just needed something that was as different from pancakes as possible. This is a nice, summer-y sort of pasta salad that we have found extremely useful for potlucks.

The Journey:

I’d say one of the best parts about this recipe is that it has a lot of greens in it. Throw in whole wheat pasta and walnuts, and it’s decently healthy. Just look the other way when you put in the oil and parmesan cheese!

I’m a guy who loves me some pesto, but this pesto is really nothing like what you would traditionally consider pesto. It’s very thick and pasty, and it isn’t a basil-based pesto, so it doesn’t have that distinguishing taste.

We often make it with spinach instead of arugula, but I think the arugula does add a little more flavor. Of course, you might want to chop it up a little bit if it is too big for a bite.

This recipe makes a lot of pasta. Even when it’s gone over pretty well at potlucks, we still have a lot of leftovers afterwards. It works pretty well cold though, so it works well as something a little extra in your lunch.

The Verdict:

To be honest, I think it could use a little something extra. It doesn’t have a lot of flavor, which is maybe surprising considering how many delicious ingredients you put in it. Looking at that list, you’d expect it to be pretty flavorful. On the other hand, you have a lot of healthy ingredients in there too, so it’s a pretty good way to get a lot of greens! (parsley, arugula and artichokes)

The Recipe:

The recipe is originally from the “Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats” cookbook.

1 lb whole wheat spiral or penne pasta

4 oz. walnuts
15 oz. artichokes
1 clove garlic
zest from 1 lemon
1/4 cup parsley
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 cups arugula (or spinach)

Cook the pasta. Combine all the rest of the ingredients except for the arugula into a food processor until a thick paste forms. Combine the warm, drained pasta, pesto and arugula into a large bowl (arugula will wilt slightly). Add pepper to taste.