I am a huge fan of pesto, in particular when its home made. The fresh and vibrant flavours can really lift a dish to the next level. When I was flicking through this months Good Food magazine, a recipe for Broccoli Pesto and Pancetta Pasta really took my fancy as not only did it involve pesto, but it used a whole load of broccoli which is packed with goodness. To start with I tweaked the recipe to make it WW friendly but I found that the recipe in the magazine didn’t actually have much taste so I continued to tweak and taste until it was perfect. The result is the recipe below.
If you are vegetarian you can leave the bacon out entirely, just make sure you check the seasoning as the bacon adds a nice salty flavour that you will have to adjust for without it.
If you are making less than the 4 portions in the recipe below, make all of the pesto and reserve whatever you don’t use in some Tupperware in the fridge, it should last about a week and you can use it in anything else you fancy!
Broccoli Pesto and Bacon Pasta
Serves 4 = 8sp on BLUE and GREEN, 3sp on PURPLE (if made with wholewheat pasta)
300g broccoli heads, chopped into florets (I used two small whole broccolis)
200g pasta, dried (whichever shape you fancy, I used penne)
1 tbsp pine nuts
1 large bunch of basil, roughly chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp parmesan, finely grated
½ tbsp olive oil
8 bacon medallions, raw and diced into 2cm squares
200g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tsp crushed chillies (or less if you don’t like it as spicy)
Add the broccoli to a pan of salted boiling water. Blanch for 5 minutes and then scoop out with a slotted spoon (leaving the water boiling in the pan) and pop to one side. Add the pasta to the same water and cook until al dente.
Whilst the pasta is cooking, pop the broccoli into the food processor with the pine nuts, basil, 1 garlic clove, parmesan, olive oil, the zest of 1 lemon and 1 tbsp water. Blitz until smooth, adding a little more water until you get your desired texture. Season with salt and pepper and add the juice of ½ lemon. Blitz again, taste and adjust the seasoning to your taste.
Next take a frying pan, spray with 1kal and add the bacon. Fry for 4-5 minutes until it starts to crisp up then add the tomatoes and garlic and fry for another 2-3 minutes.
Drain the pasta (reserve a little bit of the pasta water) and add to the pan with the bacon and tomatoes, add the pesto and combine everything together. Add a little of the pasta water to loosen if necessary. Sprinkle with crushed chillies (I add 1 tsp) and squeeze in the juice of the other half of the lemon. Taste and add more salt and pepper if required.