Roasted Broccoli & Lemon “Pesto”

18 Wed, 2010 § 3 Comments

Dave LOVES pasta.

Not exactly health food, so I did not necessarily indulge this pleasure very often in the past.  I have realized now though, as active individuals, having some form of whole grain pasta once-a-week will not kill us or completely sabotage our fitness goals.

Enter Tuesday Pasta Nights.

However, I often find pasta too heavy & hate the way I am left feeling afterward; I do not love marinara & steer away from dairy for the most part .   Oh what to do…

More Vegetables; Less Pasta.

Obviously, I am always psyched to find or create lighter pasta dishes that satisfy Dave’s noodle craving without leaving me gut shot & sad.  My secret of using more vegetables than pasta does just the trick.  Keeping portions small & pairing it with a light protein, like fish, also helps from weighing us down.

This “pesto” is not really like pesto at all, but if you chop the broccoli on the finer side [I left it chunky this time], it creates a pesto-type look.  It has become a favorite & reoccurring staple of pasta nights at our house.  This week, it paired very nicely with another simple favorite, baked lemon tilapia, which cooks up in about the same amount of time.

Roasting concentrates the flavors & caramelizes the natural sugars.  A touch of olive oil gives it a crisp, delicious finish.

  • Drizzle EVOO over 1-2 small heads* of Broccoli; add salt & pepper.
  • Bake in preheated 400*F oven for about 20-25 minutes, turning over midway through cooking time.
  • It will look dark — blackened almost — & become tender when roasted through.  [These are close, but not quite blackened yet.]
  • Place Tilapia fillets in lightly oiled baking dish
  • Add an extra small pad of butter [we use 1 tsp? Earth Balance] to each.
  • Slice a Lemon into thin rounds & layer slices to cover each fillet.
  • Loosely cover with foil & bake for 15 minutes; remove foil & bake for another 5-10 minutes until fish flakes easily.
  • Meanwhile prepare 2 small servings of pasta according to directions.

When the broccoli & fish have about 5 minutes left, saute:

  • 2 small, sliced Leeks [white part only] in ½ T EVOO for 1 minute.  [Crushed garlic is also a nice addition or substitute.]


  • 1 ½ T fresh Lemon Juice
  • ½-1 T Mirin [or other white wine]
  • grated Lemon Peel [about ½-1 tsp] would also be good to add now.

Saute until Leeks are soft & translucent.


  • ½ T Earth Balance, stirring until melted.  [Adding a small amount at the end lends more flavor without too much extra fat.]
  • Coarsely chop broccoli & toss with the strained pasta along with the leek & lemon sauce.
  • Garnish with toasted sunflower seeds.
  • Serve along side tilapia.

My sister has had success using this same roasting technique with Brussels Sprouts.

*Do not throw out the stalks!  Cut & discard the dry ends, then simply peel or slice the rough outer skin [discard] & chop; they cook up nicely quick boiled [bring to boil covered in a very small amount of water, simmer 2-3 minutes until bright green].  We do stems & florets like this, then toss with a simple dressing, seeds & quinoa.  I saved these for Eisley. 🙂

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§ 3 Responses to Roasted Broccoli & Lemon “Pesto”

  • Allie says:

    I actually think I may prefer chopping the broccoli into large florets to roast, then into smaller pieces afterward. It seems to cook more evenly & “crisp” more of the broccoli. Cooking time will be less [15-20] than the whole broccoli if you cook as florets. Let me know which way you prefer.

  • Ashley says:

    Soooo…you’re moving to Colorado when? 😉

    • Allie says:

      If we come across a simple, quaint rental, we will be there immediately! 🙂 [Ideally we’d love to find a small granny flat.] We are ready for a change up & feeling adventurous. Now we are looking to explore a couple choice towns & find a nice, simple place to call home for awhile. 🙂

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