My Green Veggie Pasta with Rocket Pesto is gorgeous for dinner on a warm night or for my Northern Hemisphere friends, as a warming and nourishing lunch. Use seasonal green veggies and the flavours will jump out of the bowl.
Everyone knows that greens are good for you, and this pasta is LOADED with them! Here’s the list of just SOME of the amazing benefits of these green vegies! (The references are at the bottom of this article.)
Broccholi is full of antioxidants and anti-cancer phytonutrients. It also helps to support the liver.
Spinach is high in iron, antioxidants and vitamin K (anti-aging ladies!).
Rocket is a bitter food, and aids digestion.
Basil is packed with Vitamins A and C, which supports eye and skin health, as well as the immune system.
Walnuts are a particularly good source of Vitamin E which is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent. Vitamin E also supports the immune system and is important for eye health. Walnuts contain omega 3s (as well as omega 6s) and are a good source of magnesium and protein.
This is a super easy dish to put together. You can make up the pesto a day in advance and store it in the fridge if you wish. This will help develop the flavours as well as save you some time.
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Ingredients (Serves 6)
1 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves
4 cloves crushed garlic
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1 cup raw walnuts (pesticide free if possible)
⅓ cup grated organic parmesan (with non-animal rennet for vegetarians)
125mL extra virgin olive oil (for the pesto)
300g wholemeal spaghetti (or any wholegrain or gluten free pasta of your choice)
1 tblsp olive oil (for sautéing)
350g baby spinach
450g broccoli, cut into florets
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
200g organic cottage cheese (optional)
Heat a medium sized frying pan on a low heat and toast the walnuts (no need to add oil) for about 5-7 minutes, to give them some crunch. Then set aside. At this point you can roughly chop ½ cup of these walnuts, for serving.
Place the basil, rocket, 2 cloves of the crushed garlic, lemon rind, parmesan, ½ cup of the toasted walnuts and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a high speed blender, and blitz on medium-high to make the pesto. You'll probably need to scrape down the sides a few times. Drizzle the rest of the olive oil (for the pesto) into the blender as it's running, until you achieve a smooth consistency. Add salt and black pepper if you wish.
Use a large saucepan to boil up enough water to cook the pasta and broccoli together. Initially cook the pasta on it's own for about 6-8 minutes (check the packet for cooking instructions), and add the broccoli 2 minutes before the pasta will be cooked. Once the broccoli has been boiled for the 2 minutes, drain the whole saucepan.
When you add the broccoli to the pasta, heat a large frying pan with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil for sautéing, over a medium heat. Add the remaining 2 cloves of crushed garlic and the spinach leaves, and stir gently for a couple of minutes, until the spinach starts to wilt.
Add the drained pasta and broccoli, the cherry tomatoes and the pesto to the frying pan and stir to combine the mixture. You may need to add some extra water to this.
For a creamier pasta (and a good dose of Vitamin B12), add the organic cottage cheese at this point.
Serve in bowls and sprinkle some chopped walnuts over the top. Add cracked black pepper for some extra spice.
National Institutes of Health. (2013). Vitamin E fact sheet for health professionals. Retrieved from http://ods.od.nih.gov.
Osiecki, H. (2014). The nutrient bible (9th ed.). Eagle Farm, Qld: Bio Concepts Publishing.
Tabrizian, I. (2015). The visual textbook of nutritional medicine. Bicton, WA: NRS Publications.