This broccoli salad is something I came up with to serve with my Easter dinner this past weekend, and I’ll absolutely be making it again in the near future. Like I always do when I’m trying to come up with something new, I searched the internet for broccoli salad recipes, but most of them called for a lot of mayonnaise and sugar..no thanks! As much as I love salads dripping in creamy mayo, the extra calories from all that mayo just isn’t something any of us need. And I’m not a fan of that sugary broccoli salad anyway, so I put on my recipe-creating cap and came up with this healthier alternative. Initially I wasn’t going to use pasta, and you can definitely leave it out if you want, but since the only other starch on my Easter dinner table was scalloped potatoes (and no, they were not lightened up, not even one little bit, and they were sooooo good..and thankfully no leftovers to tempt me!) I thought the pasta was a nice addition to the broccoli and pesto.
Lately I’ve been eating a lot of broccoli, and I’ve discovered that barely-cooked broccoli is not a friend to my tummy. On three different nights I made myself some very lightly steamed broccoli, and on those three nights I had some unpleasant stomach pains. It didn’t take me long to realize the broccoli was the problem, and the solution for me is the cook it a little longer..not to the point of being mushy and grey, but enough so that it’s semi-soft. So for this recipe, I simply blanched the broccoli in the pasta water for about 2 minutes, then transferred it to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. It was just enough to keep the broccoli nice and bright while being cooking enough to be a little easier to digest. But if you can handle raw broccoli, feel free to skip the blanching step. For the pesto sauce, my pistachio pesto would be perfect, or use what your favorite pesto. Whatever type of pesto you use, you’ll need about a cup. If that turns out not to be enough, add a little extra olive oil and/or lemon juice to add some extra moisture to your salad.
This was a great addition to our Easter dinner, and would be just as great at a summer cookout. It could also be easily turned into a main dish by adding some chicken or shrimp, or, if you want to keep it vegetarian, maybe some beans for a little protein.
- 2 cups penne pasta, uncooked
- 6 cups broccoli florets, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- ½ cup sliced black olives, drained
- ½ cup red onion, chopped
- 1 cup pesto sauce
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta and reserve the water to blanch the broccoli. Place the drained pasta in a large bowl and set aside.
- Bring the pasta water back to a boil, then add the broccoli. Boil broccoli for 2 minutes, then place in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain the broccoli and add to the pasta.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the pasta and broccoli and gently fold to combine the ingredients.
- Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours prior to serving so that the flavors can combine. Serve cold or at room temperature.