Broccolini and Spinach Pasta

True story: when I was a little girl, broccoli was my favorite food. Yep, when the other kids chose chocolate pie or strawberry shortcake or a good ol’ American hamburger, I went for the broccoli every time.

My love for broccoli has mellowed somewhat–I wouldn’t call it my favorite anymore–but I still love everything in that family. So when I found a gorgeous bunch of local broccolini at my farmer’s market this weekend, I did a happy dance. (When I got home and no one was looking, that is.)

But after I finished my happy dance, I began to wonder what I should do with the broccolini. Like its more famous half-sibling, broccolini is often featured in stir fry recipes, but I wasn’t feeling stir fry-ish this week. A package of grape tomatoes and a box of whole wheat fusilli pasta, and we were in business. A few simple ingredients, a light and tasty dish…a perfect lunch, if you ask me!

One of the cool things about this dish is that the steam from the cooking spinach and garlic will actually cook the broccolini. The addition of spinach was a last minute decision, so I didn’t thaw it out at all. You could thaw it ahead of time and add the broccolini to the pan at the same time as the spinach. Just make sure that if you thaw the spinach you do not drain it; the water of the spinach helps steam the broccolini.

The end result is full of flavor and somehow both light and filling. The crunch of the broccolini, the sweet spinach and spicy garlic, the pop of the tomatoes, and the earthy taste of the whole wheat pasta–it all combines to make a dish that is complex and simple at the same time.