Pasta With Broccoli-Rabe Pesto

This nutrient-packed pesto blows traditional basil-and-pine-nut pesto out of the water in regard to its health benefits and, when paired with whole-wheat pasta, provides plenty of fiber, slow-burning carbs, and magnesium to help you lower your diabetes risk while giving you plenty of glycogen for your next workout.

Toasting the walnuts accentuates its nutty flavor by waking up the oils in the nuts. Packed with vitamin E, which studies have shown protects against heart disease, and a number of cardiovascular-boosting, anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, walnuts can not only help decrease your risk of certain types of cancer, but it can also help ease soreness after a tough session at the track or gym. 

Adding to the fight against cancer, broccoli rabe is packed with glucosinolates, which your body converts to sulforophanes and indoles. Studies show that these compounds are effective against stomach, lung and colon cancers. Broccoli rabe is also an excellent source of immune-boosting vitamins C and A, as well as calcium, fiber and potassium—all nutrients that busy athletes need in spades.

More: How to Keep Your Immune System Strong


1 lb. whole-wheat spaghetti or pasta of your choice

1 large bunch broccoli rabe, well rinsed and chopped

1 large garlic clove

3/4 cup toasted walnuts

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 cup pasta cooking water

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a sprinkle of salt. Boil broccoli rabe for about 5 minutes. Remove broccoli rabe from pot and place in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Remove from ice water and place in a colander, or on paper towels, to drain.

Cook pasta according to package directions, making sure to reserve 1 cup of the starchy cooking water. Drain pasta.

More: The Healthiest Carb You're Not Eating

Add cooled, drained broccoli rabe to a blender along with garlic, walnuts, olive oil, cheese, salt and pepper. Pulse until well mixed to a pesto-like consistency. You may need to add a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to thin out the pesto.

Toss the cooked pasta with the pesto, adding pasta water as necessary to create a sauce. 

Serves 4

More: 6 Guilt-Free Pasta Recipes

Active logo Perfect your nutrition to boost your performance. Sign up for a race near you.

Discuss This Article