Dinner Rush! Linguine with Roasted Broccoli and Walnuts

I find few things in life to be as transformational as roasted broccoli. That’s right, I said it: transformational.

I’ve always been a big fan of the green machine (especially in the presence of cheese sauce, but that’s a recipe for another time). It has served me well in many a Chinese takeout container and is simply superb in a cream soup.

It’s not until you roast it, though, that your eyes are finally opened wide and you realize just what you’ve been missing. Deeply caramelizing the tender ends of a broccoli floret not only makes them crunch a little when bitten into, it awakens a hearty, almost meaty flavor that otherwise lies dormant in one of America’s favorite go-to vegetables. Word to the wise: Don’t rush the roasted broccoli. The deeper and darker it caramelizes, the more payoff you’ll have at the dinner table.

Try it alongside toasted walnuts and a balsamic glaze that harmonizes so well you’ll be salivating for the next Meatless Monday.

Linguine with Roasted Broccoli and Walnuts
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Inactive Prep: 10 minutes
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Level: Easy
2 crowns broccoli, cut into florets
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and ground black pepper
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 pound whole-wheat linguine
2 shallots, thinly sliced
Pinch red pepper flakes
2 sprigs rosemary
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup shaved Asiago cheese, to garnish

Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F. Place a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring it to a boil.

Arrange the broccoli florets on a baking sheet and toss them with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Roast the broccoli, turning once, until tender and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Arrange the chopped walnuts on a small baking sheet and toast them until golden brown and aromatic, 8 to 10 minutes.

Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook it until al dente according to package directions. When the pasta is ready, reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water and drain the pasta well. Reserve.

While the pasta is cooking, place a large saute pan over medium heat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the shallots, red pepper flakes and rosemary to the pan, and cook until the shallots are tender, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the balsamic vinegar, honey and reserved pasta-cooking water to the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high. Simmer the liquid until thickened and reduced by half, 6 to 8 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, and discard the rosemary sprigs.

To serve, toss the linguine with the balsamic reduction, broccoli and walnuts. Garnish with cheese.

Patrick W. Decker’s life revolves around food. Always has, probably always will. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and past member of the culinary teams for Food Network & Cooking Channel stars Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee, Marc Forgione and Bobby Deen, he now works as a food writer and content producer in NYC by day and a recipe developer at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following him on Twitter & Instagram at @patrickwdecker or visiting his website at patrickwdecker.com .

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