Bring a large covered pot of water to a rapid boil. While the water heats, wash the spinach and transfer it to a separate large pot. The water clinging to the leaves should provide enough moisture to steam it. Cover and cook the spinach on medium-high heat for about 4 minutes, until wilted but still bright green. Drain. In a food processor or blender, combine the spinach, walnuts, cottage cheese, garlic, Parmesan, basil, and salt and pepper until smooth, working in batches if necessary. Add pepper to taste and set aside. When the water boils, stir in the pasta, cover, and return to a boil. Then uncover the pot and cook until the pasta is al dente, about 7 minutes. While the pasta cooks, cut the broccoli into spears, blanch it in boiling water to cover until just tender, about 5 minutes, and set it aside. Drain the pasta and serve immediately in individual warmed bowls, topped with spinach walnut sauce and several steamed broccoli spears. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese, if you wish.
*Toast walnuts in a single layer on an unoiled baking tray in a conventional or toaster oven at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes, until fragrant and golden brown.
Recipe Courtesy of Maureen Vivano