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Thirty minutes or less is all it takes to make this creamy broccoli pesto pasta. You can also save this bright, flavorful green pesto to enjoy with sandwiches, vegetables, salads, and so much more!

A close up shot of pasta with broccoli and carrots.
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Nut-Free Pesto with Broccoli

While traditional pesto is made with fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and a hard cheese like parmesan, there are SO many ways to change it up with different herbs, vegetables, nuts, nut-free alternatives, cheese….

And I love experimenting and coming up with unique homemade pesto, like this zucchini pesto with almonds, beetroot pesto, creamy ricotta pesto, and now this broccoli pesto!

Broccoli happens to be one of my favorite vegetables, but it’s always been hit or miss with my two kids. I continue to play the exposure game hard and keep offering because familiarity leads to acceptance. And because I need it in my life.

I will say their favorite is roasted frozen broccoli. And whenever they refuse to eat their mini trees, I like to add to dips, sauces, quesadillas, muffins, etc. This really helps reduce waste.

I especially love this broccoli pesto sauce because it has white beans, a wonderful source of iron (a key nutrient for babies especially). Not only does this unexpected addition boost nutrition, it helps create a thick and creamy texture without the use of nuts.

That means you can safely pack any leftovers for a school lunch box or a healthy school snack. More on this below!

Right now I’m going to show you how to enjoy this creamy pesto sauce with pasta so that even picky eaters will gobble it up, or so I have been told!

Related: Kid-friendly Broccoli Recipes

Ingredients

All the ingredients laid out on a white background.

I am highlighting just the ones that need further explanation. The complete list is in the recipe card below.

  • Broccoli florets – both fresh or frozen will work
  • White beans – you can use great northern or cannellini
  • Lemon – highly recommend using freshly squeezed lemon juice for maximum flavor and brightness
  • Pasta – any shape will work although I prefer the short pasta with ridges or grooves that will really soak up the sauce. Feel free to use regular, legume-based, or whole wheat pasta

Step-by-Step Instructions

A four image collage of how to make the broccoli pesto pasta step by step.
Cooked pasta tossed with pesto in a pot.
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add broccoli and cook for 2-3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove and transfer to a colander.
  2. Add pasta to the same pot of boiling water and cook according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the pesto – Add cooked broccoli, basil leaves, beans, parmesan, lemon, garlic, and olive oil to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Drain pasta, reserving one cup of the pasta water, and return back into the same pot.
  4. Stir in pesto and toss until well coated. Add reserved pasta water to thin out the sauce, as needed.

Tips for Success

Blended pesto in a blender.
  • If you already have precooked broccoli, you can certainly use it. It will save you an extra step.
  • Be sure to save at least 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. It will help the sauce to cling to the pasta.
  • Once blended, taste the pesto and adjust to your liking. We like it really garlicky so oftentimes will add more. You can add more lemon juice or parmesan cheese as well.

How to Serve Broccoli Pesto

Broccoli pesto pasta plated for adult, baby, and toddler along with carrots and broccoli.

Like any good pesto, this one is super versatile!

Spread this baby-friendly pesto on pizza, sandwiches, vegetables, scrambled eggs, meat or fish, like salmon, and of course cooked pasta.

You can reheat or enjoy cold – like this pesto orzo salad.

It makes for a great school lunch. Or pack the broccoli pesto as a healthy snack along with some vegetables, bread, tortilla chips, etc. for dipping.

Storage

Leftover pesto in a freezer-safe bag.

I recommend storing the pesto separately from the pasta. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

To freeze,

Transfer the leftover pesto to a freezer tray, freeze until solid, pop out the molds, and transfer to a freezer-safe bag or container. Will keep for up to 3 months.

OR

Add to a freezer safe bag. Carefully press flat (don’t go too close to the seal) and seal the bag, removing as much air as possible. Store flat in the freezer until solid. It will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

And when ready to enjoy, simply break off however much you need!

You can serve with fresh or frozen cooked pasta for a super fast freezer weeknight meal!

More Broccoli Recipes

5 from 14 votes

Broccoli Pesto Pasta

Thirty minutes or less is all it takes to make this creamy broccoli pesto pasta. You can also save this bright, flavorful green pesto to enjoy with sandwiches, vegetables, salads, and so much more!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
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Equipment

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups Broccoli florets (200g)
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 15 ounce can no-salt-added cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (can use other white beans)
  • 1 small garlic clove, , can use 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup packed spinach (optional)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan (50g), can add less, leave out all together, or add nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 16 ounce pasta

Instructions 

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add broccoli and cook for 2-3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove and transfer to a colander.
  • Add pasta to the same pot of boiling water and cook according to package directions.
  • While the pasta is cooking, prepare the pesto: Add broccoli, basil, beans, parmesan, lemon, garlic, and olive oil to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
  • Drain pasta, reserving one cup of the pasta water, and return back to the same pot. Stir in pesto and toss until well coated. Add reserved pasta water to thin out the sauce, as needed.

Notes

  • Once blended, taste the pesto and adjust to your liking. We like it really garlicky so oftentimes will add more. You can add more lemon juice or parmesan cheese as well.
  • I recommend storing the pesto separately from the pasta. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Freeze for up to 3 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 459kcal | Carbohydrates: 71g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 13g | Fiber: 7g | Calcium: 151mg | Iron: 3mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Min

Thank you so much for stopping by! I am Min, a Registered Dietitian, a Christ follower, a wife, and a mom to our two miracle babies! Currently, I’m having a ton of fun feeding their tummies and sharing our baby led weaning journey! Follow me on Instagram if interested in seeing daily menu as well as tips and tricks.

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Recipe Rating




12 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner tonight! I bought basil specifically so I could try this recipe! It was wonderful – I used a garlic clove at the start, and then added some extra garlic granules at the end. I was afraid my toddler would be a little unsure about the meal because he’s never experienced basil before but he ate every bit of it! I used just over half of the pesto, so I’ll be freezing the rest in an ice cube tray. Another great recipe!

    1. Yay!! Thank you so much for trying out so many of my recipes, Jenny, and taking the time to share how much you and your family enjoyed them! Means a lot!!

    1. Hi I haven’t tried but think it will make the sauce too thick. You can always add more liquid though so worth a try! Let me know if you do!

    1. Yay! Hope you guys enjoy! It can keep in the fridge for up to a week. I’d drizzle some oil over the top and then seal. I also like to freeze them in ice cube trays so I can just pop out however much I need!