Broccoli pesto pasta

Broccoli pesto pasta

broccoli pesto pasta

Happy weekend, hope the sun is shining in your part of the world. Ours is, as usual, a bit of a mixed bag. The weather is very underwhelming given that we’ve just traversed into June.

Now that it’s summer and everyone is relaxing a bit more, I’m making an effort to take some more time off for myself too. With this in mind, I made a simple, quick, healthy and delicious pasta recipe that will allow you to smuggle more green cruciferous vegetables into your meals without much pain or effort.

I am personally a massive broccoli fan and since I am in charge of practically all meals in my house, we tend to eat it 3-4 times a week at least. Duncan is on board so it’s all good. I will typically steam it or stir-fry it and add into tofu bowls or bake it in the oven to add to salads and pastas, but if you are not a fan, perhaps this recipe might convert you.

You first steam your broccoli lightly, then place it in a food processor together with toasted pine nuts, a handful of basil, fragrant lemon zest, lemon juice, a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast, salt and pepper and a good glug of olive oil and process until everything is finely chopped and the flavour is well balanced.

You then use a generous amount of pasta cooking water to thin the sauce and make it cling to your pasta better. I also like to stir some finely chopped capers through the dish for extra pops of flavour and I serve it with a dusting of fried breadcrumbs for some extra texture but both of these are optional extras. We really enjoy this simple midweek pasta – it’s both delicious and nutritious and really easy to make too – and I hope you will too.

broccoli pesto ingredients

broccoli pesto pasta broccoli

Steam your broccoli florets until just cooked over the pot of water you’ll boil your pasta in later to minimise washing up.

broccoli pesto pasta pesto making

While the pasta is simmering away, pop steamed broccoli florets into a food processor. Give them a bit of a head start, then add all of the flavour building ingredients – pine nuts, basil leaves, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic and nutritional yeast – and whizz it all up once more.

broccoli pesto pasta pesto made

Finally, season to taste and add a glug of olive oil. Stir through some warm pasta and enjoy. Add chopped capers and fried breadcrumbs to take it to the next level.

broccoli pesto pasta bowl

broccoli pesto pasta close up

10 min
5 min
10 min
5 min

  • 35 g / ¼ cup pine nuts, plus extra to serve*
  • 350 g / 12.3 oz broccoli (1 medium head)
  • 30 g / 1 oz fresh basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 30 ml / 2 tbsp lemon juice + zest of ½-1 lemon
  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast* (optional)
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 60 ml / ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil*, optional but recommended


  • 300 g / 10.5 oz orecchiette or similar pasta
  • 2 tbsp capers, finely chopped
  • fried breadcrumbs, optional
  1. Heat up a small pan in on a low heat. Add pine nuts and dry roast them until golden and fragrant, stirring regularly – keep an eye on them at all times – they tend to burn easily.
  2. Divide broccoli into small florets (keep the sweet stem for snacking or shred into salads).
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and grab a large steamer that sits well on top.
  4. Arrange broccoli florets in the steamer and steam for about 4 minutes, until cooked but not soft and falling apart. Take the steamer off the heat.
  5. Add some salt and pasta to the boiling water. Cover the pot with a lid and simmer the pasta until done to your liking. Before you drain your pasta, reserve approximately ½ cup / 120 ml (or more if not using oil) of pasta cooking water.
  6. Place steamed florets in a food processor, pulse them a few times until chopped small.
  7. Add in toasted pine nuts, basil leaves, garlic, lemon juice, zest, nutritional yeast, a generous grind of pepper and salt, before you pulse the mixture some more. Finally trickle in some olive oil (or pasta cooking water) and process again.
  8. Stir pesto through drained pasta, using some reserved pasta water to help with coating. Stir chopped capers through, adjust the seasoning. Serve sprinkled with fried breadcrumbs, if desired.

*PINE NUTS – you can use pretty much any nuts or seeds instead. My favourites are toasted almonds (whole or flaked almonds) or toasted pumpkin seeds for a nut-free version.

*OLIVE OIL – if you wish to make this dish without oil, you could use an avocado instead and some more pasta cooking water, or pasta cooking water and a spoonful of tahini for example.

*NUTRITIONAL YEAST – if you don’t like it or cannot have it for whatever reason – a spoonful or so of shiro miso (white miso) or a few sun-dried tomatoes (both in oil or without oil) are both good substitutes.

*FREEZING – this pesto freezes well. Freeze in ice-cube trays, once frozen gently remove the cubes by sliding a butter (blunt) knife along one of the sides and store in a freezer bag/container. Deforst as many cubes as you need by letting them thaw on the kitchen counter or in the fridge overnight.

3 g
23 g
4 g
12 g
60 g
*per 1 out of 4 servings
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4 reviews, 8 comments
Hi Ania, thanks for another delicious recipe and it is rather incredible what a delicacy one can make with breadcrumbs.
And yes, the pesto can be frozen no problem. Just make sure to take it out of the freezer in time so it can defrost naturally in the fridge.
    Thanks Els, I am delighted to hear that you enjoyed this dish and yes, breadcrumbs are magic, I love the texture they bring to dishes. Thank you so much for taking the time to review and for letting me know about freezing, I will add this info to the post. x Ania
Another hit with my meat eating husband "it doesn't even need cheese on", praise indeed!
    Yay, thanks Holly! That's brilliant to hear! Lets' change the world one man at a time ;) x Ania
Fantastic recipe!!! Made this for my meat-eating husband and teenage son and both loved it. I used almonds instead of pinenuts and slightly less lemon and nutritional yeast. So flavoursome. Love the tip to use pasta water to reduce the amount of oil. This is definitely a much lighter and fresher vegan pesto which has now taken over as being the family favourite. My son wouldn't normally go for broccoli and couldn't believe it was in the meal.
I just discovered your website Ania (your beetroot risotto is on the menu for tomorrow night) but I've bookmarked a pile of the recipes to use the organic seasonal veges from our local market. Thank you!!!
    Aw, thanks so much for your kind words, Carolyn! I am so pleased to hear that your entire family loved this simple meal despite some of them not being broccoli lovers - what a nutritional win :) !! I hope you'll enjoy my take on risotto just as much. Thank you for taking the time to review, I really appreciate it. x Ania
Linda Oxman:
I looooove your recipes and mole them
often. I pin everything that comes in your email, as I follow your site obsessively. I can seem to find a way to print the recipes without taking several screen shots and printing from those. Am I missing a way to do this?
Oh and BTW tonight I am making your Broccoli Pesto with homemade pasta a friend make. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
Thanks for all the deliciousness you bring to my family!!!
    Aw, thank you so much for your lovely comment, Linda! I am delighted to hear that my recipes bring you and your family so much comfort and thanks so much for your trust in them! As for the printing, there is a PRINT button just above the ingredients list (next to number of portions, cooking time etc). It currently prints without the main image, unfortunately, but it's something I hope to fix in the future - life has just been a little too busy lately. Thank you, Linda and have a lovely end of the week! x Ania
Good Evening Ania,
Is there a substitute to Nutritional Yeast please? I suffer from IBS so a bit reluctant to use the nutritional yeast.
Thank you
    I'm sorry to hear that you suffer from IBS, Sapana. I would suggest gluten-free white (shiro) miso paste (based on chickpeas for exmple) or a couple of sun-dried tomatoes? It may seem like an odd suggestion but tomatoes, and dried ones especially, contain loads of umami. x Ania
Helen Portas:
Looks amazing! Can you freeze left over pesto?
    Thanks Helen, I have not tried but I don't see why not! Hope you'll enjoy it! Ania
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