Dana Slatkin

Whole Grain Spaghetti with Broccoli Pesto

Broccoli PestoI wish you were here in Los Angeles last weekend. Warm breezes blew gently across a cloudless electric blue sky, and there was a palpable exuberance in the air. It was the perfect time to welcome a certain well-seasoned New Yorker, one with a mega presence and a delicious agenda.

Mario Batali, proprietor of 19 restaurants, Iron Chef, author of eight cookbooks and television superstar, came to town. On tour to promote his latest book, Molto Batali, Mario breezed into our boardwalk café, Coast, for a sold-out lunch that included samples of several recipes, accompanied by wines from his Bastianich label.


It was a meal to remember, not as much for the food, which was tasty indeed, but for the outsized personality that jumped out of each dish. Mario is larger than life, and his spirit seasons everything he does, onscreen and off.
Slatkin Family and Mario Batali
I skipped home like a giddy schoolgirl with my autographed cookbook, already thinking about which recipes I would try for dinner. The photo of Trenette with Jalapeño Pesto was so inviting, I decided to give it a spin. Unfortunately, the fiery chiles and zealous quantity of olive oil added a bit too much gusto for my family’s tastes.

But I was so inspired by Mario’s playfulness, I started over from scratch, reinterpreting his recipe with more subdued broccoli in place of the chiles. In honor of Mario, I sprinkled some lively lemon zest and chile flakes to garnish. And that’s when I realized, sometimes the delight you take in cooking is what makes the cooking delightful.

If you live for pasta (as I do), try my Vegan Kale Pesto; Pasta with Creamy (Dairy-Free) Vodka Sauce; Spaghetti with Lentils and Spinach; and Homemade Macaroni and Cheese.

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Photo credit: Whole Living

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