Photo Credit: Elizabeth Newman
This is one of those great pasta recipes that’s just as delicious served fresh and warm, as it is served cold later! All you need to cook is the orecchiette pasta and the broccoli rabe for a minute or two, then you can toss everything else together in a bowl. In the summer, I like to make a similar recipe using cherry tomatoes, but when tomatoes aren’t in season, I turn to this variation! Broccoli rabe has a great complex and bitter flavor that I find pairs super well with the creamy pesto and cheese. However, if it’s a strong flavor for you, it can absolutely be substituted with broccolini!
Additionally, I love this almond pesto for everything! Since almonds are cheaper and have less of a strong flavor than pine nuts, it’s a great variation on the traditional kind.
Orecchiette with Almond Pesto and Broccoli Rabe
- 1/2 cup roasted unsalted almonds
- 2 cups packed basil leaves
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt divided, plus more for the pasta water
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 1 bunch broccoli rabe blanched and cut into 1 inch
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese diced into 1/3 inch pieces
- 1 pound orecchiette pasta
- This recipe originated on an episode of Giada Entertains. Episode: Baby Shower Brunch.
- Add the almonds to the top of a food processor. Pulse 5 or 6 times until finely chopped. Add the basil, olive oil and half of the salt. Puree until combined and almost smooth. Pour the pesto into a large bowl. Fold in the cheese, broccoli rabe and diced mozzarella and toss well to combine.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season liberally with salt. Add the orecchiette and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or a pasta spider, remove the pasta from the water and add directly to the bowl with the pesto, tomatoes and mozzarella. Add 1/2 cup of the pasta water and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and toss everything together until evenly coated. Serve warm or at room temperature.