Anyone who knows me knows that pasta is my favorite food in the whole world. I could eat pasta in one form or another for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Pasta is the first thing I will order when we go out to eat and is what I cook for myself when I’m home alone.
Pasta is comforting, nourishing and incredibly versatile. Case in point, my Penne with Feta and Broccoli. This dish is anything but traditional by Italian standards, but it’s yummy, super simple to throw together and a complete meal in one bowl. Yes please!
I was a fussy eater as a kid. One of the only things I would happily eat was plain pasta with olive oil and some crumbled feta mixed through. When my own kid went through his picky stage the good old ‘pasta with white cheese’ was our saving grace.
What I love about my Penne with Feta and Broccoli is that it provides the same comfort as my favorite childhood dish whilst elevating the nutrition factor.
Lightly steamed broccoli provides a serving of greens that is so important in a veggie diet (who am I kidding, it’s important in every diet really). Sprinkle over some toasted almond flakes and you have a lovely nutty protein crunch that will have you coming back for seconds.
Giving this dish a distinctly Mediterranean feel is the chilli, lemon, and oregano. Whilst these ingredients are best friends in my book, feel free to omit the chilli if you don’t like the heat. The dish is still super tasty without it.
The trick is, to mix the herbs and the lemon zest in with the crumbled feta. That way, when you plunge the hot, freshly cooked penne pasta into the bowl with the feta and the herbs, the flavours instantly begin to meld together.
I like to steam the broccoli florets and toast the almonds whilst I’m waiting for the pasta to cook. Then I simply throw everything into the big bowl with the crumbled feta and gently mix it all together.
What’s left is a creamy, flavoursome sauce that gently coats the penne and the fresh green broccoli. I then top it off with the crunchy toasted almonds and set the bowl in the middle of the table so everyone can help themselves.
This dish looks and tastes really impressive but could not be easier to make. It’s also a great way to serve steamed broccoli to the people in your life who think it’s boring. Give it a go and let me know what you think.
Penne Pasta with Feta and Broccoli
350g dried Penne Pasta
50g flaked almonds
1 head of broccoli (cut into bite size florets)
150g Australian Feta
Zest of 1/2 a medium lemon
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
- With the back of a fork, crumble the feta in a large glass bowl that will accommodate the pasta and broccoli later on.
- Add the lemon zest, dried oregano and chilli flakes to the bowl and gently mix them through the feta. Set the bowl to one side.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Cook your pasta according to the packet instructions (times will vary depending on the type of pasta you use i.e. wholemeal, gluten free, durum wheat). Remember to give the pasta a stir periodically so it doesn’t stick together.
- While the pasta is cooking steam your broccoli in a stove top steamer for around 2 minutes. As the broccoli pieces are small they really won’t need any longer than this. A little crunch to the broccoli is desirable. Once they’re done, remove the broccoli from the steamer to a separate bowl (don’t put them in with the feta just yet) and set aside.
- Toast the flaked almonds in a dry, hot pan. They will need quite a bit of shuffling around so they toast evenly. You can toast the almonds as much as you like, just keep an eye on them – they can go from lovely and golden to burnt really quickly! When you are happy with how toasty your almonds are put them in a little bowl and set aside.
- By this stage your pasta should be ready. Have a taste to make sure. If the pasta is good to go drain the pasta water by pouring the whole thing into a colander in the sink so all the pasta water drains out.
- Time to put it all together. Firstly, put about 1/2 the almond flakes into the bowl with the feta mix. The steamed broccoli goes in next. Finally tip your hot pasta into the bowl. Now gently mix it all together with a fork or spoon. Some of the feta will melt and you will begin to smell the freshness of the lemon zest and the earthiness of the oregano. Once everything is coated in the spicy, lemony feta top it off by sprinkling over the remaining toasted almond flakes. Take the bowl to the table and let everyone help themselves.