Broccoli Pesto Pasta

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Easy to prep and ready in minutes, this broccoli pesto pasta is a family favorite that’s perfect for those manic midweek days. It’s loaded with fresh ingredients, and it’s a great and comforting meatless meal everyone will love.

Can’t get enough of this? Try this Basil Pesto Pasta and this Asparagus Pesto Pasta!

Why You’ll Love It

This broccoli pesto pasta is the perfect dish for every season.

The signature nutty pesto is creamy and delicious and gets a distinctive kick from the salty parmesan and spicy garlic. Adding broccoli florets to the mix gives everything an extra punch of bright green goodness. 

You’ll also love how quick and hassle-free it is to prepare. It comes together in less than 30 minutes and it’s the perfect way to get some veggies into your life that actually taste good!

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Broccoli florets: Fresh or frozen broccoli work equally well, but I find that fresh holds up better once it’s cooked and blended.
  • Pasta: I love using wholegrain fusilli or penne, but any pasta will do.
  • Basil leaves: A bright and herby ingredient that dials up this twist on classic pesto
  • Garlic cloves and sea salt: Gives the pesto a savory base and a hit of rich flavor.
  • Pine nuts: Key to achieving the perfect nutty pesto with a delicate flavor.
  • Grated parmesan: For extra nuttiness and a subtle cheesiness.
  • Chili flakes: An optional ingredient that works really well with broccoli and adds a touch of heat.
Laid out ingredients: pasta, broccoli, basil, garlic, evoo, pine nuts, parmesan.

How To Make Broccoli Pesto Pasta

Step-by-step overview. Full ingredients and instructions are in the recipe card below.

Prepare the broccoli florets: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the broccoli florets. Cook them for about 3-4 minutes until they’re bright green and tender (photo 1). Remove the slotted spoon and set aside (photo 2). Keep the water boiling for the pasta, though!

Cook the pasta: In the same pot of boiling water, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions until al dente (photo 3). Make sure you reserve around 1 cup of pasta water before draining. 

Prepare and blend the pesto ingredients: While the pasta cooks, blend the cooked broccoli, basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan (or nutritional yeast for vegans!), and sea salt. Run your food processor until the mixture is smooth (photo 4). If your pesto is a touch too thick, you can add a little olive oil or pasta water to reach your desired consistency.

Bring everything together: Return the drained pasta to the pot and add the broccoli pesto. Toss until the pasta is evenly coated (photos 5 and 6). If the sauce is slightly too thick, you can add some reserved pasta water to loosen it up. You can also add a bit of extra salt to taste.

Serve and enjoy: Serve the pasta and sprinkle it with extra grated parmesan and chili flakes for a hit of heat!

Serving Suggestions

Broccoli pesto pasta topped with parmesan, basil, and chili flakes.

How to Store

It’s best to eat this pasta straight away. You can keep any leftovers in the fridge for 3-4 days. If you want to make it ahead, I suggest you make the pesto first, store it, and cook the pasta at the last minute.

To store the pesto:

  • In the fridge: You can store the leftover pesto in the fridge for up to 4 days in an airtight container. Just give it a quick stir before using it in case it develops a slight brown color from oxidation.
  • In the freezer: To store your pesto for longer, put it in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to defrost it, thaw it overnight in the fridge. Otherwise, you can place the airtight container in warm water and change the water every 30 minutes. Once it’s thawed, eat the pesto ASAP!

If you try this broccoli pesto pasta recipe, please leave a comment and a rating and let me know how much you liked it!

Broccoli pesto pasta on a round plate topped with parmesan and chili flakes.
5 from 2 votes
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Broccoli Pesto Pasta

Easy to prep and ready in minutes, this broccoli pesto pasta is a family favorite that’s perfect for those manic midweek days. It’s loaded with fresh ingredients, and it’s a great and comforting meatless meal everyone will love.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4
Calories: 451kcal
Author: Sara Trezzi

Ingredients

  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 12 ounces pasta of your choice
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove - peeled
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup grated parmesan - or 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast for vegan version
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • chili flakes for serving - optional

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli florets and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until they are bright green and tender. Remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon and set aside. Keep the water boiling for the pasta.
  • In the same pot of boiling water, cook the pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water before draining (note 1).
  • While the pasta cooks, in a food processor, blend the cooked broccoli, basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan (or nutritional yeast), and sea salt (photo 4). Process until smooth. If the pesto is too thick, you can add a little olive oil or pasta water to reach your desired consistency.
  • Return the drained pasta to the pot. Add the broccoli pesto and toss to coat the pasta evenly. If the sauce is too thick, add some of the reserved pasta water to loosen it up. Adjust the seasoning with salt if necessary.
  • Serve the pasta, and if desired, sprinkle with extra grated parmesan and chili flakes for a bit of heat.

Notes

Note 1 – Pasta water is key: Don’t forget to reserve some pasta water before draining. The starchy water helps emulsify and thicken the pesto, ensuring it coats the pasta evenly.
How to store: This pasta is best served fresh, but if you have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. You can store the pesto in the fridge for up to 4 days and in the freezer for up to 2 months.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate per serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 451kcal | Carbohydrates: 71g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 11g | Sugar: 4g

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2 Comments

  1. Anna Reid says:

    5 stars
    This was so easy and delicious. The whole family loved it!