I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m feeling a bit rough around the edges after this holiday weekend. While we still technically have another week or two of summer, school is now back in session, the campus is flooded with undergraduates again, and I’m fairly certain I have never before started an academic year feeling this haggard and un-refreshed. It’s like that feeling when it’s Monday morning and you’re already majorly sleep-deprived…except times a hundred.
So when I’m running on fumes and can’t be bothered to make anything too fussy, I often gravitate towards pasta. This dish is a slightly fancier—but still super simple—version of something I used to throw together while in college: pasta, pesto, broccoli, and chicken sausage. If you’re uber pressed for time, you can use pesto from a jar and steam the broccoli in the microwave, but if you’ve got just a few extra minutes, I highly recommend whizzing up some homemade pesto and roasting the broccoli. The delicately crispy and charred tips of the roasted broccoli provide an unbeatable depth of flavor, and the pesto…well, one bite of this basil walnut pesto and you’ll be in love!
I prefer walnuts over pine nuts for pesto for two reasons: first, the mellow richness and faint bitterness of the walnuts complement the flavors of sweet basil and briny parmesan remarkably well, and second, I have a feeling that walnuts may be a more common pantry staple than pine-nuts (they certainly are in my household, at any rate). It always bugs me when I buy an ingredient for a specific recipe, use a bit of it, and then the rest just sits there because I don’t have (m)any other dishes that call for it.
So there you have it: one of my tried-and-true, go-to dinners for when I want something quick and hearty! And now it’s time for an informal poll: which nuts do you usually keep on hand?
- 2 crowns broccoli
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 12 ounces campanelle (or your favorite pasta shape)
- 9 ounces cooked chicken sausage, sliced
- 2 tablespoons grated parmesan (optional)
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 packed cup basil leaves
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut the broccoli crowns into florets. Optional: strip off the tough outer skin of the florets. Toss the broccoli with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the broccoli on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly charred.
- While the broccoli is in the oven, heat water for pasta and cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain and set aside.
- While the pasta water is coming to a boil (or while the pasta is cooking), make the pesto: in the bowl of a food processor, combine the walnuts and garlic and pulse until a grainy paste forms. Add the basil leaves and pulse until the leaves are finely chopped. While the food processor is running, add the olive oil and process until fully blended. Add the parmesan, along with salt and pepper to taste, and pulse a few more times until the pesto is smooth.
- Toss the pesto with the pasta and add the roasted broccoli florets and chicken sausage. Garnish with extra parmesan, if desired.
- I use Aidells chicken and apple sausage, which is fully cooked, so I just warm it up in the microwave.
- Pesto adapted from Once Upon A Chef
chef mimi says
A beautiful dish! I’ve never heard of this pasta. It’s amazing how many varieties there are. Although expensive, I actually always have pine nuts on hand. They’re used in chinese, southwestern, and mediterannean dishes. just this week i added them to asian-inspired roasted broccoli, added them to zucchini pancakes, and to a salad! But I also have walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, almonds, and cashews on hand! Good luck with school!
I wouldn’t have thought pine nuts were so versatile from one cuisine to another! That’s definitely good to know. Sounds like you have a very well-stocked pantry (in the nut department, at least)!
Cake Lover says
This recipe looks like the cousin of a recipe my son whips up! His has Brussel sprouts, pesto, pasta, and sausage. If you have time, browning the sausage in a cast iron pan will elevate your recipe to a heavenly level. I hope to try this recipe as soon as I get my hands on some fresh basil! Bravo – again!
Thanks for the suggestion about browning the sausage – I can’t believe I haven’t tried that! Let me know what you think if you make the pesto!
Patty K says
Yum! Roasting the broccoli is such a great enhancer to any dish! I think the feeling you’re experiencing is simply age 🙂 I used to be able to run errands like no other during my high school and early college years and still have energy for evening plans. Now, I run a couple of errands and am left exhausted!
Oof, age could certainly have something to do with it, but it’s probably more a result of the go-go-go schedule and workload I’ve had the last few weeks. I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets tired from running errands, though!
So perfect! A simple pasta dish like this is always what I reach for first on a hot evening. Broccoli and sausage = yes please. 🙂
Pasta is pretty much a lifesaver, right? I hope you get a chance to try this!
I have been feeling the same way!! Can someone just IV drip coffee into my veins and hand me a plate of this pasta? I feel like that would do the trick.
I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been feeling stretched thin as well, but at least misery loves company, right? Let’s just go eat all the carbs.
I love this dish! It’s simple, but the flavors meld together well to make a hearty meal. I also liked how you explained why you chose certain ingredients. I hope you have a chance to feel refresh as the semester moves along. Thank you so much for joining us at FF, and have a wonderful weekend!! 🙂
Thank you! I’m glad my explanation didn’t bore you. I hope you have a lovely weekend as well!
This pasta dish looks delicious! I also turn to pasta when I am tired. I really like the pesto and broccoli combination. I also use and prefer walnuts when I make pesto. It saves a few dollars and tastes really good too! In fact, I substituted walnuts for pine nuts in my vegetarian lasagna I posted today. 🙂 By the way, I am also in Michigan. 🙂
It’s always nice to “meet” another Michigander, so thank you for saying hello! I love combining pesto and broccoli, because the texture and shape of the broccoli allows it to soak up all the pesto-y goodness. I’m going to go check out your veggie lasagna now!
Love pesto and it is a staple in my kitchen, whether fresh or frozen and on occasion I will buy a jar! Pesto goes with everything – that’s why I freeze so much every summer/fall to have throughout the year. By the way – I am another Michigander from the beautiful city of Ann Arbor 🙂
Oh wow, I’m not sure I have enough basil to make pesto to last through the year, but that’s a great idea! And I had no idea you’re an Ann Arborite as well – how neat!
That looks delicious and filling! Thanks for sharing! Happy FF!
Thanks! I hope you get a chance to try it!
I love pesto and this is a very original way to use it. Thanks for posting.
I’m glad you think so! Thanks for stopping by.
Divine Spice Box says
this looks like the perfect go to meal on a hectic day ! This recipe made me cheerful ! Thanks for posting it on FF 🙂
It really is! Let me know what you think if you try it!
I didn’t cook anything this tasty when I was in college!!! Love walnuts in my pesto as well- they’re healthier than pine nuts! 🙂
I had a very limited repertoire back then, but there were a few good creations nevertheless! A few bad ones too, but I won’t talk about those right now 😉 I’m glad to hear you’re also a fan of walnut pesto!
great recipe! broccoli has always been my favorite vegetable 🙂 and i’ve always wanted to try making my own pesto 🙂
thanks for sharing, i’ll definitely try this!
Broccoli is one of my favorites as well! I hope you enjoy this as much as we do. Let me know what you think if you make it!
Oh that looks good!!!
Thanks! I’m glad it caught your eye.
wow, so yummy!
Indeed, it is! Thanks!
Looks absolutely delicious. This is my kind of comfort food, a complete hearty meal in one bowl. Pinned!
This is definitely comfort food for me as well! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!