The deep, rich flavor of this broccoli-walnut pesto reminds me of fall. In our supermarkets today, we find most vegetables and nuts all year long, but that was not so when I was growing up. Broccoli is a winter vegetable, and walnuts mature in the fall and were plentiful in the winter. The pesto is easy to make in a food processor. When it’s tossed with the hot bucatini, it makes a dish that will warm your insides and feel like a warm hug.
- Kosher salt
- 2 stalks broccoli, cut into florets (about 4 heaping cups)
- 1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted
- 1 cup packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
- Peperoncino flakes
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Grana Padano
- 1 pound bucatini
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare a bowl of ice water. Add the broccoli florets to the boiling water, and cook until they’re just tender, about 4 minutes. Remove them to the bowl of ice water to cool. Drain them, and pat them dry. Return the water to a boil for the pasta.
Put the broccoli in a food processor with the walnuts, parsley, basil, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and a big pinch of peperoncino. Pulse to make a chunky paste. With the processor running, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, to make a smooth and bright-green pesto. Scrape it into a large serving bowl, and stir in the grated cheese.
Add the pasta to the water, and cook until it’s al dente. When the pasta is cooked, remove it with tongs to the bowl with the pesto. Add 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water, and toss well to coat the pasta with the pesto, adding a little more pasta water if it seems dry.