This vegan broccoli pesto pasta is flavorful, comforting, and healthy! It’s an easy dinner recipe that’s perfect for the spring and summer season. Enjoy the light and fresh flavors of lemon, garlic, and basil alongside gluten-free pasta and toasted pine nuts.
Craving the comfort factor of pasta but still want to keep things light and fresh? This vegan broccoli pesto pasta recipe is perfect for you! To start, the homemade pesto is healthier than all the rest. It’s packed with nutrients and contains an entire head of broccoli.
The broccoli is then combined with healthy ingredients like lemon juice, fresh basil, raw garlic, and toasted pine nuts. Plus, you can turn this into a protein-packed plant-based meal by using chickpea pasta instead of flour pasta.
This broccoli pesto pasta is:
- Vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, and gluten-free
- Fresh, comforting, flavorful, and versatile
- Made with healthy, wholesome ingredients
- Perfect for the spring season!
What ingredients are in broccoli pesto
- Broccoli: This pesto recipe is especially healthy due to the component of broccoli. Broccoli is loaded with fiber and nutrients, including vitamin C, K1, B9, iron, and potassium.
- Basil: Basil provides various health benefits and offers medicinal properties.
- Pine nuts: If you’re not a fan of pine nuts, you can replace them with walnuts. However, I still recommend toasting the walnuts just as you would with pine nuts.
- Olive oil: I recommend using a high-quality extra virgin olive oil for this recipe. Authentic pesto includes olive oil, so I advise against making a substitution here.
- Nutritional yeast: Nutritional yeast is not only loaded with B vitamins, it also acts as a replacement for parmesan cheese (which is traditionally used in pesto).
- Lemon: Freshly squeezed lemon juice is preferred, but you can use store-bought lemon juice too.
- Garlic: What’s pesto without garlic? As a garlic lover, I personally use upwards of 4 cloves. However, you may want to stick to 4 if lots of garlic isn’t your thing.
How to make vegan broccoli pesto pasta
For a full breakdown of the ingredients and recipe instructions, scroll down to see the recipe card below.
We’ll first create the broccoli pesto, then boil the pasta, and combine the two parts! To start, cook the broccoli on a frying pan until slightly tender and bright green. Then, place the cooked broccoli in the refrigerator to cool. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts on a warm frying pan, stirring constantly, until golden.
Next, add all pesto ingredients to a food processor. Process until a thick paste is formed. You can keep it chunky or add more water to thin the consistency.
After, cook the pasta according to package instructions. Once pasta is al dente, drain the water and transfer it back into the pot. Add the pesto and mix to combine. Serve with additional broccoli, vegan parmesan, and pine nuts.
How to use homemade pesto
There are so many ways to enjoy pesto! Pasta is one of the most common uses, of course. However, you can also add pesto to pizza, toast, sandwiches, bruschetta, salads, or as a garnish for soups. Additionally, enjoy it as a dip for crackers, pita bread, and sliced veggies.
Kaylie’s tips for perfecting this recipe
Toast the pine nuts. I know, it’s an extra step and it’s tempting to just use raw pine nuts. Sure, you don’t have to toast pine nuts because pesto is still great without this step. However, toasting only requires 2-3 minutes of your time and it really does make a difference; the pesto will have a deeper, richer flavor. To toast, warm a skillet on low temperature. Continuously stir the nuts until light golden brown.
Allow the broccoli to cool. Once the cooked broccoli is bright green and slightly tender, allow it to cool in the refrigerator before creating the pesto. Otherwise, your pesto will have a gummy consistency.
Salt the pasta water. Why should you salt pasta water? This is optional, but I always notice it makes a big difference. Whenever I boil pasta, I add 1-2 tsp salt to the water. Don’t worry; most of it will be drained along with the water later on. Salted water boils more quickly, enhances the flavor of the pasta, and helps it cook better.
Cook the pasta al dente. Nobody likes overcooked pasta. Generally speaking, it’s best to cook pasta until it has a tender yet slightly chewy texture. Otherwise, you’ll be left with a gummy blob of noodles.
More vegan pasta recipes:
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This vegan broccoli pesto pasta is flavorful, comforting, and healthy! Enjoy the light and fresh flavors of basil, garlic, and lemon tossed with gluten-free pasta. Serve with broccoli and vegan parmesan.
- 8oz pasta (rotini, penne, or shells)
- 3 heaping cups broccoli florets (~1 large head)
- 1.5 cups basil, tightly packed
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted*
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 cup water
For serving (optional)
- Broccoli (prepare extra if planning to serve)
- Vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast
- Pine nuts
- Prepare the broccoli: Warm a frying pan on medium-low heat. Add broccoli florets along with a dash of oil or plain water. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until bright green and slightly tender. Transfer broccoli to a plate and place in the refrigerator to cool down.
- Toast the pine nuts: Warm the frying pan on low heat. Add pine nuts and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, or until light golden brown. Be careful to not burn them. Remove pine nuts from the frying pan immediately and set aside to cool.
- Prepare the pesto: Add broccoli, basil, nutritional yeast, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and water to a food processor. Process ingredients until a thick paste if formed. You can make the pesto as chunky or as smooth as you’d like. Add additional water to thin the consistency, if desired.
- Prepare the pasta: Cook pasta according to package instructions. I recommend salting the pasta water with 1-2 tsp salt, and cooking the pasta al dente. After, drain water and rinse pasta.
- Combine: Transfer pasta back to the pot and add pesto. Mix together to evenly coat the pasta. Serve with (optional) more broccoli, vegan parmesan, nutritional yeast, and/or pine nuts.
- *If you don’t have pine nuts, you can use raw walnuts instead. I recommend toasting the walnuts the same way you’d toast pine nuts.
- Nutrition information below reflects 8oz chickpea pasta.
- Serving Size: 1/4 recipe
- Calories: 383
- Sugar: 7g
- Fat: 16g
- Saturated Fat: 1g
- Carbohydrates: 43g
- Fiber: 12g
- Protein: 21g
Keywords: broccoli pesto pasta, broccoli with pesto, vegan pesto pasta
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