Cheesy Pesto Pasta Bake 

This time of year we eat at least two pasta dishes a week – I look at pasta like a blank canvas for countless concoctions. My cheesy pesto pasta bake is a family favourite in our home – and no doubt it will be with your gang too!

Step One:

1/2 cup (125 mL) seeds *I use ¼ cup (60 mL) each: sunflower & pumpkin seeds

3 cloves garlic – about 1 tbsp (15 mL) minced garlic (*or to taste)

6 cups (1.5 L) lightly packed baby spinach and/or baby arugula or baby kale leaves (and/or mix of all three)  

¼ cup (60 mL) chopped green onion 

¼ cup (60 mL) grated Parmesan cheese 

½ tsp ( 2 mL) salt 

¼ tsp (1 mL) chili flakes and ground nutmeg

zest and juice of half a lemon  

1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil 

6 oz (170 g *about 3/4’s of 250g pkg*) brick style cream cheese, at room temp

1 ½ cups (325 mL) milk  

Place seeds and garlic in food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until well chopped. Add spinach and pulse until finely chopped (scrape down side of bowl if needed). Add green onions, cheese and spices. Pulse until combined. Add lemon zest and juice. With the motor running – drizzle in oil. Add cream cheese and pulse until well combined. Scrape down sides of bowl if needed. With motor running pour in milk until just combined. Set pesto aside.

Step Two:  

3 cups (750 mL) pasta shape of choice – I like a penne or rigatoni

1 head of broccoli, cut in florets (use stem too!)

250g (8 oz) German salami, sliced on a bias 

½ cup (125 mL) thinly sliced sundried tomatoes

1 cup (250 mL) quality Parmesan cheese, divided

Pre-heat oven to 400 F (200 C). 

Cook pasta to al dente (according to package directions). Place broccoli florets in bottom of colander. Drain pasta over broccoli. Place pasta and broccoli back in the pot you cooked pasta in (to save dirtying another dish). Toss pasta/broccoli with reserved pesto, salami, sundried tomatoes and ½ cup (125 mL) of parmesan cheese. Stir until evenly combined. Place mixture in a well greased 9 X 13-inch baking/casserole dish. Sprinkle top with remaining ½ cup (125 mL) Parmesan cheese. Place in center of preheated oven for about 25 to 30 minutes – until cheese is sizzling and top is just starting to brown. Makes 8 servings.  

Coconut Mocha Milkshake

I love coffee, ice cream and coconut. So, I combined all three in milkshake form. You’re welcome!!!

3 scoops quality vanilla ice cream

½ cup (125 mL) chilled brewed coffee

1 cup (250 mL) milk

1 tsp (5 mL) pure coconut extract *or to taste*

Place all ingredients in blender and pulse until desired consistency. Divide evenly between two milkshake glasses.  Makes about 4 cups (1 L). 

Garnish *optional*: Dip rim of milkshake glasses in melted white chocolate then dip in flaked coconut. Place glasses in fridge to chill before serving. Pour prepared milkshake into garnished glasses and top with whipped cream.

Charmaine is the host of “In Char’s Kitchen” on YourTV Muskoka and regular guest on: Rogers Daytime OttawaCTV Morning Live OttawaCHCH Morning LiveBreakfast Television What She Said Radio sharing her love and enthusiasm for all things food, cooking and fitness.

Most importantly; Charmaine is the mother of two active boys; Tyler & Colgan.

Charmaine understands the importance of preparing healthy, wholesome dishes all while keeping budget and time in mind.

Follow Charmaine on:

Instagram: Charmaine_Broughton

Facebook: Charmaine Broughton