Learn how to make this healthy pasta and pesto recipe

Healthy Recipe: Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe Pesto

This easy-to-make pasta recipe uses nutrient-rich broccoli rabe to make a creamy pesto sauce. Plus, it contains almost half your suggested daily protein per serving.

Executive Chef Jennifer McKelvey, CEC, CCA, FMP cooked up this healthy fare during the Healthy Cooking and Eating with the Steelers event at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC.


Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe Pesto

Cooking Time: 10 Minutes
Serving Size: 4


  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, toasted
  • 3/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 lb. orecchiette pasta


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and set up a bowl of salted ice water.
  2. Cook the broccoli rabe in the boiling water for 1-2 minutes and then immediately place into ice water.
  3. Drain the broccoli rabe and squeeze out any excess water.
  4. Coarsely chop the broccoli rabe and place into a food processor. Puree until it is a coarse paste.
  5. Add pistachios and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to the broccoli rabe and puree until smooth. Add ricotta and pulse until combined.
  6. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta for 1 minute less than cooking time on package.
  7. While pasta is cooking, place the pesto in a large skillet and add about 1-1/2 cups of pasta cooking water; place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.
  8. Add pasta and simmer for 1-2 minutes.


Nutritional Information

Serving Size – 1 cup

Amount Per Serving:

  • Calories – 420
  • Total Fat -14g
  • Saturated Fat – 4.4g
  • Trans Fat – 0g
  • Cholesterol – 20mg
  • Sodium – 290mg
  • Total Carbohydrate – 54g
  • Dietary Fiber – 4g
  • Total Sugars – 2g
  • Protein – 22g