Made with a handful of basic ingredients, this vibrant broccoli pesto is incredibly easy to prepare. Toss it with pasta for a delicious weekday dinner!
If we’re technical, this broccoli pesto isn’t pesto at all. One of the key ingredients that make pesto, pesto, is missing: nuts! Pine nuts are a signature ingredient in traditional basil pesto, thickening it and adding a nutty richness. Although I often replace them with pepitas, nuts, hemp seeds, etc., I usually make pesto with some kind of nut or seed.
But in this recipe, broccoli comes in for the nuts. This is by no means an exact replacement, but I love the results. This broccoli pesto is lighter and brighter than a traditional pesto. It also has a looser texture, so it’s perfect for mixing with pasta.
Quick, easy and satisfying, it’s made up of 8 ingredients and comes together in less than 15 minutes. Next time you’re at a loss for what to cook on a weeknight, this broccoli pesto recipe is waiting for you.
Ingredients for the broccoli pesto recipe
Here’s what you’ll need to make this broccoli pesto recipe:
- Broccoli, of course! You will only use the florets in this recipe. Save the stem for another use, like making broccoli rice.
- Fresh herbs – Use basil, parsley or a mixture.
- Parmesan cheese – For a vegan variant, replace the nutritional yeast.
- Fresh lemon juice and zest – They make the pesto shiny and refreshing.
- Garlic – An essential pesto! It adds a strong depth of flavor.
- Extra virgin olive oil – It adds richness and brings the sauce together.
- And salt and pepper – To bring out all the flavors!
Find the full recipe with the measurements below.
How to make broccoli pesto
Like regular pesto, this broccoli pesto sauce is very easy to prepare. Here is what you need to do:
First, cook the broccoli. Before mixing the broccoli with the pesto, I blanch it until it is crisp-tender and bright green. The process is simple: bring a pot of salted water to a boil and place the broccoli florets in it. After 30 seconds, transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Let them cool for at least a minute. Then drain them and dry them.
Then mix the sauce! Add the broccoli in a food processor, along with the rest of the pesto ingredients. Stir until the sauce is combined, but not mashed. There should still be very finely chopped pieces of broccoli to give the texture of the pesto.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you think the sauce tastes brilliant on its own, don’t worry! It should. Once it’s mixed with pasta, its lemony flavor is perfect.
Serving suggestions with broccoli and pesto
This nut-free pesto has a perfect consistency for making pesto pasta. When you’re ready to eat, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta (any shape you want!) Until al dente. Drain it and mix it with the pesto, season to taste with salt and pepper to taste.
Before digging, garnish the pasta with red pepper flakes, more Parmesan or vegan Parmesan, and pine nuts for crunch.
Serve the broccoli and pesto pasta as is or accompany it with a salad or a simple side dish of vegetables. We love it with a mixture of roasted vegetables, roasted cauliflower or sautéed kale. It would be excellent with my citrus fennel avocado salad or my chopped Italian salad too.
Complete the meal with a homemade focaccia or a good crusty bread. Enjoy!
More favorite pestos and sauces
Do you like pesto? Then try my easy kale pesto, green radish pesto or vegan basil pesto! Then experiment with these other delicious sauces and dressings:
Preparation time: ten minutes
Cooking time: 1 min
Serves 3 to 4
This vibrant broccoli pesto is quick and easy to make! Toss it and toss it with pasta for a fresh and tasty weeknight dinner.
- 1 cup full of very small pieces of broccoli floret
- ½ Cup fresh basil or parsley
- ⅓ Cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ Cup grated parmesan cheese or 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 soup spoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 cloves of garlic
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces Pasta, cooked al dente
- 2 soup spoons toasted pine nuts
- red pepper flakes, to taste
- Extra Parmesan or Vegan Parmesan
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and place a bowl of ice water nearby. Blanch the broccoli in boiling water for 30 seconds, then use a slotted spoon to scoop it into the ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain and pat dry.
Place the broccoli in a food processor with the basil, olive oil, cheese, lemon juice and zest, garlic, salt and several fresh peppercorns. Mix until combined.
If desired, mix the pesto with the cooked pasta. Serve with pine nuts, red pepper flakes and additional cheese. Season to taste and serve.