If you’re looking for the world’s brightest and most flavorful pasta salad – you’ve found it! This is broccoli pesto pasta.
We combined tender broccoli pesto (yes, you can make pesto with broccoli!) with fresh Parmesan and parsley for a mixture that elevates the pasta to out-of-this-world deliciousness.
How to make broccoli pesto pasta salad
- Broccoli: This little cruciferous vegetable is loaded with good things!
- For instance, it has more protein than most other vegetables in the market, and it’s chock-a-block with vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and potassium – which we think is a pretty impressive line up of benefits!
- Bonus: Broccoli is low in fat! Also, it’s savory and it loves to absorb flavors you pair it with.
- Basil: This fresh herb is the perfect companion to fresh broccoli! Its mild, lightly anise and minty flavors marry perfectly with the cooked broccoli.
- However, if you don’t have any basil on hand, you could substitute in fresh thyme, oregano, flat-leaf parsley or even the curly variety.
- Lemon: Lemon juice is great, but lemon zest + juice takes recipes to a whole new level.
- And because broccoli and lemon pair so perfectly together – it only makes sense to up the lemon quotient!
- A good rule of thumb when cooking nearly anything, is to add a little acid to the mix because it elevates all the ingredients.
- So, if you’re putting together a meal and it feels like it’s missing something you can’t quite define, grab that zester!
- Parmesan: Both grated and shredded parmesan work in this recipe.
- But the one thing that’s imperative is that you use fresh parmesan either way.
- Pre-grated or shredded parmesan is coated with a substance to keep it from caking – and honestly, it doesn't taste very good in your pesto!
- Pasta: Grab a box of whole grain, protein-enhanced or veggie-enhanced pasta (your favorite shape!), cook it to al dente and mix it with the broccoli pesto.
- First, cook the pasta. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Let pasta cool.
- Next, make the broccoli pesto. Place cooked broccoli, lemon zest and juice, basil leaves, Parmesan cheese, nuts, garlic, salt and black pepper in the bowl of a food processor.
- Process on low while drizzling olive oil in through the vegetable shoot until desired consistency is reached, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use (while pasta cools or if making ahead).
- Lastly, put together the salad. Toss broccoli pesto with cooked pasta until thoroughly combined and transfer to a serving bowl. Top with fresh herbs.
- Serve or store up to 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Recipe Substitutions & Alterations
- To make it gluten free: Choose gluten free pasta or a bean or lentil-based pasta.
- To make it dairy free: Skip the Parmesan cheese and try it with nutritional yeast instead. Skip the extra Parmesan on top of the pasta.
- To make it vegan: Skip the Parmesan cheese and try it with nutritional yeast instead. Skip the extra Parmesan on top of the pasta.
- To make it nut free: Skip the nuts in the pesto.
What veggies can you make pesto out of?
- Greens: such as spinach, kale, arugula, watercress, mustard greens, beet greens or carrot tops.
- Herbs: such as cilantro, parsley or dill.
- Veggies: such as asparagus, peas and avocado.
- Store this salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days.
- You can make the broccoli pesto up to 2 days in advance.
- Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days total.
Other summer salad recipes:
- Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad
- Green Bean Potato Salad
- Pasta Salad with Asparagus Pesto
- Healthy Potato Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette
- Italian Tortellini Salad
- Fennel and Grape Potato Salad
Broccoli Pesto Pasta Salad
Homemade broccoli pesto tossed with pasta and topped with fresh basil and Parmesan.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: Serves 8
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Stove-Top
- Cuisine: Salad
- Diet: Vegetarian
- 8-ounces whole grain shaped pasta
- 4-5 cups broccoli florets, cooked and cooled
- Zest and juice of ½ medium lemon
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves + more for serving
- ¼ cup fresh Parmesan cheese + more for serving
- ¼ cup nuts (pine, walnuts, almonds, pepitas)
- 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled
- ½-1 teaspoon coarse salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ cup olive oil
- Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Let pasta cool.
- Place cooked broccoli, lemon zest and juice, basil leaves, Parmesan cheese, nuts, garlic, salt and black pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Process on low while drizzling olive oil in through the vegetable shoot until desired consistency is reached, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use (while pasta cools or if making ahead).
- Toss broccoli pesto with cooked pasta until thoroughly combined and transfer to a serving bowl. Chop the remaining basil and sprinkle it on top of the pasta as well as a smattering of fresh Parmesan. Serve.
Storage Tip: Refrigerate up to 4 days.
- Serving Size: ⅛ of recipe
- Calories: 259
- Sugar: 2g
- Sodium: 191mg
- Fat: 16g
- Saturated Fat: 2g
- Unsaturated Fat: 14g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 24g
- Fiber: 4g
- Protein: 6g
- Cholesterol: 2mg
Keywords: pasta salad, best, easy, healthy, simple, quick, weeknight dinner, nutrient dense, kid friendly
Sounds delicious! I wonder if your dad would eat it.
Julie Andrews says
It's hard not to love!
Tara | Treble in the Kitchen says
Yum! I bet the goat cheese adds a nice tang to this dish 🙂
Julie Andrews says
I loooove goat cheese 🙂
So are we just ignoring the olive oil in the nutritional value? Jussayin, the macros look a bit misleading.
Julie Andrews says
Hi there - the issue is the recipe card didn't have the olive oil listed, so it wasn't part of the nutrition facts. I've fixed it and the nutrition facts are now accurate.
Emily | EmPowered Nutrition says
Pesto is so springy! This looks so fresh and flavorful!
Julie Andrews says
Thanks! I love putting all the veggies in my pesto 😉