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The Pasta to Break You Out of Your Broccoli Rut

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Beware the broccoli comfort zone. At first, the “BCZ” can seem like a great place. Choices seem plentiful—you can eat broccoli roasted, sautéed, blanched, raw. Take note: Repeated exposure to only the florets of broccoli can lead to listlessness and apathy. Escape the clutches! Regain your moxie! Here is how:

  1. Broil the florets and turn them into pesto.
  1. Cook the stems. (They are arguably the best part of broccoli.) After removing their fibrous outsides, they can be sliced and eaten raw or sautéed; cooked, they have a sweetness to them and a texture similar to artichoke hearts.
Mmmm, broccoli.
Mmmm, broccoli. Photo by Julia Gartland

Now combine these two ideas. Cook your favorite tube-shaped pasta (I like mezzi rigatoni), and toss it with the broccoli pesto. Fold in the cooked broccoli stems and grated smoked mozzarella cheese, then transfer everything to a casserole dish. Top with more smoked mozzarella, because why wouldn't you? Cook it until it is bubbling and beautiful.


If you’re hunkered down in a cold part of the country, this dish will keep you warm and happy for a few days. If you’re somewhere along the California coast and you’re sick of hearing about winter, deal with it (and serve this at room temperature—it makes an epic pasta salad).

F858a5a0 9523 4f90 a58a baf6f9b64bb4  2016 0202 rigatoni with broccoli pesto and smoked mozzarella julia gartland 0276

Mezzi Rigatoni with Broccoli Pesto and Smoked Mozzarella

40f4e192 1d25 4f40 b8f3 90ea1bdb64f6  unnamed Josh Cohen

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Serves 4
  • 1 bunch broccoli (should yield approximately 5 cups of florets)
  • 3/4 cup olive oil, plus more for cooking the broccoli
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano
  • 1/2 pound mezzi rigatoni (or your favorite shape of dried pasta)
  • 1/2 pound smoked mozzarella

Tags: vegetables, broccoli, pesto, pasta