Pasta with Broccolini Pesto and Crème Fraîche

By • April 22, 2014 • 0 Comments



Author Notes: I highly recommend making the pesto in a food processor. Or a powerful blender. Otherwise, the texture will be stringy and unpleasant. These measurements are approximate. The most important pesto-making advice I can give is that it's key to taste it several times. It will need adjusting in order to balance the flavors. And play with using different kinds of cheeses or nuts or greens. If you use any firm vegetables or greens, make sure you blanch them first in salted water. Be careful and only add the salt at the end because sometimes the pesto is almost salty enough from the salted water, the anchovies, and the parmesan. If you reheat it, do it over very low heat and add a splash of water and olive oil to keep it moist and to prevent the pesto from sticking to the pan or browning.Phyllis Grant

Serves 4

Broccolini Pesto

  • 1 bunch broccolini, about 10 stalks
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, for blanching
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed arugula
  • 1/3 cup blanched almonds, lightly toasted and still warm
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and still warm
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon sherry or white wine vinegar
  • 2 anchovies, packed in oil (or more!)
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/3 cup fresh and creamy goat cheese
  • 1/2 to 1 cup olive oil (start with 1/2 cup)
  • Kosher salt to taste
  1. Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil. Add salt, then add broccolini. Boil until stalks just give a bit to the tip of a paring knife (about 3 minutes). Drain.
  2. Throw hot broccolini into the bowl of the food processor with the parsley, arugula, almonds, walnuts, lemon juice and zest, vinegar, anchovies, garlic, Parmesan, and goat cheese. Start by adding only 1/2 cup of the olive oil. Blend the heck out of it (15 seconds or so). Scrape down the sides. Blend again for a few seconds. Taste.
  3. You will probably need to add quite a bit more olive oil and a few pinches of kosher salt. Maybe some more lemon juice. Take your time. Add a little bit at a time until you're happy with the flavor and consistency. Sometimes it helps to smear some on bread. Another thing I do is step away for 10 minutes, blend again, taste, and go back to adjusting. Or ask a husband or a child or a friend to taste it for you. People are very opinionated about pesto. But they can be quite helpful.
  4. Store in the fridge for a week with a thin layer of of olive oil on top. Or freeze for a few months.

Pasta with Broccolini Pesto and Crème Fraîche

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (for pasta water)
  • 1 pound pasta (I use spaghetti)
  • 3/4 cups broccolini pesto
  • 1/3 cup crème fraîche
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • Zest strips from 1 lemon
  • 1 cup broccolini florets (save stalks for soup or stock)
  • Olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • Parmesan
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt, then add pasta.
  2. While pasta is cooking, place pesto, crème fraîche, parsley, and lemon zest in the bottom of a large serving bowl. Whisk together. Set aside.
  3. When the pasta is almost done, use a measuring cup to scoop out about a cup of the pasta water. Then toss the broccolini florets in with the pasta to cook for the final minute or so.
  4. When the pasta is al dente, drain and immediately pour pasta and broccolini over the pesto mixture in the reserved serving bowl. Add a splash of pasta water. Toss. Using a vegetable peeler, rain down some wisps of parmesan. Serve immediately. Have pasta water, olive oil, crunchy salt, and additional Parmesan on the table.
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