The Pasta to Break You Out of Your Broccoli Rut

February 16, 2016

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.
  2. 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. 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).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Fay Moore
    Fay Moore
  • Kelley Bodwell
    Kelley Bodwell
  • Josh Cohen
    Josh Cohen
Josh Cohen

Written by: Josh Cohen

Born and raised in Brooklyn, I’m perpetually inspired by the diversity of foods that exist in this city. I love shopping at the farmer’s market, making ingredients taste like the best versions of themselves, and rolling fresh pasta. I learned how to make fresh pasta in Italy, where I spent the first 6 months of my career as a chef. I've been cooking professionally in New York City since 2010.


Fay M. February 22, 2016
, but this is a fabulous way to put them together with the florets. My husband only likes the florets and I have always felt it a waste to throw the stalks away so I usually just steam them or juice them. This is a fabulous way to combine the two into a great tasting dish.
Kelley B. February 17, 2016
do you think a person could make this using frozen broccoli?
Josh C. February 17, 2016
Hi Kelly,

I think that you may not be able to utilize the stems if you are using frozen broccoli. I also think that you will be able to taste the difference between frozen and fresh broccoli. However, if you have frozen broccoli in your home and you're looking to use it up, you could use it for this recipe.