Creamy Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli and Vermont Cheddar

If you caught the cover of the February/March 2009 Food Network Magazine, then you saw a gorgeous Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Rabe Pesto. I couldn’t wait to make it.


Except I didn’t know much about broccoli rabe – which turns out to be nothing at all like broccoli. So I decided to go with what I know and see if this recipe works with regular broccoli. I also replaced the parmigiano-reggiano cheese with a sharper, more pungent cheese to give it a bit of zip.

broccoli mixture

Without the bright green contrasting colors this dish may not look as lovely the Food Network Magazine cover, but I really enjoyed it. The orecchiette pasta is a lot like shells, hiding little salty pistashio nuggets in every other bite. It’s like a grown-up macaroni and cheese, with broccoli and pistachio being the more dominant tastes than the cheese.

If you’re in the mood for something a little different, this is for you!

orecchiette pasta

Orecchiette with Broccoli and Vermont Cheddar
Adapted from Food Network

2 1/2 cups broccoli, chopped
1/2 cup pistachios, toasted
1 cup Vermont Cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 pound orecchiette pasta

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Meanwhile, puree broccoli in bowl of a food processor. Add toasted pistachios, followed by Vermont Cheddar. Finally add ricotta and pulse until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add broccoli mixture to a large skillet and add 1 cup of the pasta water. When pasta is cooked, drain and add to the skillet with the broccoli mixture. Stir vigorously to combine and cook until the sauce is creamy and hot. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with shredded Vermont Cheddar.

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