Lemon Fusilli with Spinach, Broccoli, and Roasted Tomatoes

by Liz on January 19, 2011

Lemon Fusilli with Spinach, Broccoli,  and Roasted Tomatoes

We have a new addition in our house. No, it’s not a child. It’s a television. My husband and I didn’t have one for over a year. We got by just fine due to Hulu and Netflix, but our downstairs neighbor was upgrading and gave us her old one.  We soon discovered that our apartment complex now offers free cable to its tenants. This means one thing: I no longer have to guiltily watch the Barefoot Contessa while on the elliptical machine at the gym, but can now watch in the comfort of my own home. Let’s just say it is a good thing that my required P.E. class for college happens to be this semester.  I’ll need all the extra exercise I can get while under the influence of Ina Garten.

Cherry tomatoes, halved Broccoli
Boiling broccoli Roasted Tomatoes

Until yesterday, I had never watched anyone cook anything on t.v. and felt compelled to make what I had seen. All afternoon I couldn’t shake the thought that I simply had to make what I had seen. So, after I went to the gym, I decided nothing would be better than whipping up a cream and cheese laden pasta dish. But hey, it’s vegetarian! People, you should really make this.  Try to ignore the amount of cream in this and treat yourself because it was seriously that good. Just like I knew it would be.

Zested lemon and minced garlic Lemon Cream Sauce

Lemon Fusilli with Spinach, Broccoli,  and Roasted Tomatoes

Lemon Fusilli with Spinach, Broccoli, and Roasted Tomatoes
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa/Ina Garten

The original recipe calls for arugula, and the tomatoes aren’t roasted.  However, I don’t care much for arugula or raw tomatoes, so I used spinach instead, and roasted the tomatoes. But if you like arugula and raw tomatoes, by all means follow the original recipe.


2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, finely minced, divided
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
2 cups heavy cream
2 large lemons, zested and juiced
1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets, stems discarded
1 6 oz. bag of baby spinach
1 lb. dried fusilli pasta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and Pepper


Preheat oven to 400° F. Slice the tomatoes in half, then toss in a bowl with 1 tablespoon (or more if needed) of olive oil, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of grown pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake for about 20 minutes until the tomatoes get soft and you can start to really smell the garlic. When done, you can either leave them on the sheet or put them in a bowl and set aside for later.

While tomatoes are roasting, boil the broccoli florets in a pot of salted boiling water for 3-5 minutes until they are crisp-tender (I did mine about 5 minutes). Drain the broccoli and run under cold water to stop them from cooking.

In a sauce pot over medium heat, add one tablespoon of olive oil and when heated, add 2 cloves minced garlic and cook for about one minute, or until fragrant but not burning. Then add the cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Ina says it’s very important to season the sauce well since it’s the main flavoring for the pasta. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and let simmer for about 20 minutes, until sauce is thickened a bit.

After you get the sauce started, cook the fusilli in a large pot of salted boiling water according to the instructions on your package, or for about 10 minutes until al dente. When pasta is done, drain and return to the pot. Then add the cream sauce to the pasta and cook over medium-low for 2-3 minutes until the sauce is mostly absorbed into the pasta.  Turn the heat off, then add the spinach and stir until it has wilted from the heat of the pasta.  Add the broccoli, roasted tomatoes, and 1/2 cup of parmesan and toss until everything is combined.  Pour onto a serving platter and eat immediately.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Carolyn May 27, 2011 at 11:15 am

Okay, I just made this myself, and it was perfection!! I agree with the previous commenter- the roasted tomatoes are a super yummy addition.

carolyn February 9, 2011 at 11:51 pm

charity made this for me last week- it ruled! super duper tasty. Loved the lemon.

Liz January 29, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Christina, glad you liked it! I’m a lemon fiend, so I loved how much lemon was in it, but I definitely understand it might be a little bit too much for some. I’d love to try it w/asparagus also, but unfortunately my husband’s not a fan. Maybe I’ll do it anyway!

Francesca January 28, 2011 at 8:18 pm

I made something similar to this recently, but it didn’t even occur to me to roast some tomatoes with it - what an absolutely brilliant idea. That is going to be DELICIOUS.

christina January 28, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Ok. We tried it. It was very simple and delicious. The roasted tomatoes were my favorite part. I can’t believe I’ve never roasted a tomato before this recipe! I may substitute asparagus for the broc next time and will also only use 1 lemon with just a little zest next… We found the lemon to be a little overpowering. Besides that, we loved it!

What Happens After Five January 28, 2011 at 11:13 am

That is one of my favorite Barefoot Contessa recipes - I may it all the time! Love your blog!!

emily (a nutritionist eats) January 27, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Oh this is totally my kind of meal!
It looks SO good!

Michelle K. January 23, 2011 at 6:23 pm

i made it! i’m eating it right now and it’s so delicious. i’ve never put lemon in a pasta sauce before and it makes it taste so yummy. thanks, liz!!

Liz January 19, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Farrah, if I lived in your town, you know I’d make this for you while you get used to your new addition. =)

farrah Dawn Thrush January 19, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Looks wonderful. Will try this with the family sometimes soon… when I have time to cook again:)

charity January 19, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Oooo! That’s going on the menu for next week!

christina January 19, 2011 at 1:53 pm

i’m going to try this recipe this weekend. it looks delicious!

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