Add a veggie kick to a classic Italian sauce or spread with a quick and easy recipe for creamy Broccoli Pesto Pasta, including ways to customize this top-rated dish with different nuts, fresh herbs and more.
Pesto has appeared in countless variations around here, from the traditional, top-rated favorite (a.k.a. my mom Noni’s famous Basil Pesto Pasta) to simple spins featuring asparagus, peas and even pistachios.
Now it’s time for beloved broccoli to get in on the action with the ultimate way to up your (or your little ones’!) veggie intake with my go-to recipe for creamy Broccoli Pesto Pasta.
The Best Nuts for Pesto
While pine nuts are the most traditional addition to pesto, nearly every variety of nut (and even some seeds) can work their magic in this flavor-packed sauce, including:
- Pumpkin seeds
How to Make Broccoli Pesto Without Basil
Switching up the nut that stars in pesto pasta is just as easy as swapping out the traditional pesto for any other leafy green, including kale, arugula, mint or parsley.
Stumped on which to choose? Opt for a mix! And if you are going to extra-leafy green route and using kale, don’t forget to blanch it first to tenderize the leaves and guarantee a smoother puree.
Ways to Use Pesto
Pesto is so much more than a pasta sauce! If noodles aren’t your thing, consider more ways to make this herby, garlicky purée the main event:
- Mix it into mayo for a flavorful spread or dip for sandwiches, crudité, chips and more
- Slather it atop pizza then pile on the mozzarella
- Dollop it atop soup for a punch of stir-able flavor
- Swap it in for oil or butter when making Pesto Eggs on Cheesy Toast
- Pair it up with marinara in Easy Pesto Lasagna Roll-Ups
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 1 pound uncooked pasta, such as rigatoni or penne
- 3 Tablespoons pine nuts
- 3 cups fresh basil leaves
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli florets and cook them for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli to a blender.
- Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water, and set it aside.
- Add the nuts to a small saucepan set over medium heat. Toast the nuts, moving them around in the pan, until they are fragrant, about 3 minutes.
- To the blender, add the nuts, basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, pepper and ½ cup of the reserved pasta water. Pulse until combined.
- With the blender running, stream in the olive oil. Stop the blender and scrape down the sides as needed then continue blending the pesto until it is puréed. (If needed, added 1 additional tablespoon of pasta water at a time to thin the pesto.) Taste and season it with salt and pepper.
- Toss together the pasta and pesto, thinning it with additional reserved pasta water ¼ cup at a time as needed. Serve.
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