Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Whipped Ricotta. Better known as the deliciously healthy-ish spring pasta bowl. Homemade broccoli pesto with raw broccoli, fresh basil, and a bit of parmesan. All tossed with hot pasta, fried lemon, and creamy ricotta cheese. It’s a fresh springy take on pasta, that’s ready in 30 minutes or less. This dish makes for a vibrant pasta bowl that’s perfect for Meatless-Monday, or any other day of the week too.
We might (literally) be buried in snow, but regardless, my recipes are moving into spring. I’m ready, aren’t you? Ready for colorful, lighter dishes, fresh spring berries, brunch, salads, edible flowers, and everything that comes with spring produce. Ooh, and maybe some roasted artichokes too?!
PS. I’m not joking about the artichokes, you should make some? Maybe with a vegan aioli? Let me know!
This happens to me every single March like clockwork. We’ve switched the clocks forward, the days are getting longer, and spring is on my mind. But, at least around here, the snow is still (heavily) falling, with lots more in the forecast.
To keep sane, I begin making spring food a little on the early side. It’s kind of a combo of winter and spring actually. Somewhat cozy, but still light and colorful, which in my mind is really the best of both worlds. And that’s where this pasta comes in. It’s fresh, bright, full of vegetables, hinted with citrus, and involves plenty of pasta and cheese. So you see?
The perfect mix. And…it’s no fuss, and super simple. Just the way all Monday recipes should be.
Now, let me tell you about the broccoli pesto. I know this might seem a little bit odd, but don’t doubt me today. I promise, broccoli pesto is very good, and remember, we’re not eating it plain, we’re tossing it with ricotta pasta!
Nothing not to love.
Unlike other broccoli pesto recipes, I decided to keep the broccoli completely raw instead of blanching it first in boiling water. When I first made this recipe, I did blanch the broccoli. By the time the pesto hit the pasta, I felt like the broccoli turned to mush and lost a lot of its flavor, texture, and color. Since we’re tossing the pesto with HOT pasta, the raw broccoli immediately begins to cook. The heat from the pasta creates perfectly steamed broccoli without turning it to mush.
In addition to the pesto, I also added a little lemon for a bright pop of citrus…I also just really love lemon.
Here’s the thing. While I left the broccoli raw, I decided to pan fry the lemon zest in a bit of olive oil. This really gives the pasta some serious flavor and helps to better infuse each bowl with hints of lemon. It’s DELICIOUS, a true game changer. If you’ve never fried your lemon zest, I strongly encourage you to give it a try as soon as possible.
OK, and now, the ricotta. You guys are always asking how I create recipes and continue to come up with new ideas. While I get a ton of inspiration from my family and the changing seasons, I also get a lot inspiration from my own head. I am a very, very, very visual person. Many times I’ll have a picture of a dish in my head and create the recipe based off of that. Seems a little crazy, but it’s the way I work. And this process often forms my favorite recipes…and photos for that matter.
Anyway, when I pictured this pasta in my head, I pictured it sitting atop a creamy bed of whipped ricotta. Why, I don’t know. But both the picture and the thought of pasta mixed with creamy ricotta was too good not to create. So that’s exactly what I did. I whipped up some ricotta cheese in the food processor and spread into the bottom of each pasta bowl before adding the hot broccoli pesto pasta. Once the pasta hits the ricotta it slowly start to sink in, warming the cheese, and making every twirl of pasta so delicious.
It’s different, but so, so good. The perfect pasta for a Monday night!
If you make this spring pasta, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to also tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!
Creamy Broccoli Pesto and Ricotta Pasta
Calories Per Serving: 451 kcal
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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- 1 large head of broccoli, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh basil
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 3/4 pound of your favorite pasta
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
- 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- black pepper
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese, whipped in the food processor, if desired
- 1. In a blender or food processor, combine the broccoli, basil, parmesan, olive oil and a pinch of salt and crushed red pepper. Pulse until chunky smooth. 2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta. 3. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add the shallot and lemon zest and cook until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Drop the pasta into the skillet. Add the broccoli pesto, lemon juice, and a pinch of pepper. Toss to combine. Thin the pasta, as desired, with the reserved pasta cooking water. 4. Spread the ricotta cheese into the bottom of each individual serving bowl. Spoon the pasta over the cheese. Swirl the pasta into the cheese. Enjoy!