Broccoli Walnut Pesto Pasta
This easy Broccoli Walnut Pesto Pasta will bring your simple pesto dish to another level of yumminess by adding a nice smoky and nutty punch from the toasted walnuts and make it super creamy and nutritious by incorporating fresh broccoli! It is a delicious veggie-loaded pasta that you can make in less than 15 minutes. You can whip up a scrumptious weeknight dinner in a jiffy, plus get your kids to eat vegetables without all the unnecessary whining- what is not to love?
I have always wondered why broccoli is one of the most unliked vegetables out there? It is no secret that I really like this cruciferous vegetable because it is so versatile and super nutritious too! I love using them to make salads, soups, and yummy side dishes! You can try my Smoked Gouda Broccoli Soup with Garlic Cheese Croutons, Broccoli Caesar Salad, and Broccoli White Cheddar Gratin and you will definitely see what I am hyping about!
But, sadly, not everyone can join me on my happy we-love-broccoli-train! So sometimes, one just has to be a bit more creative (or sneaky) in incorporating this fiber-rich, nutrient-loaded, and vitamin-packed vegetable into our meals. And this broccoli-walnut pesto pasta is certainly one way to go about it!
What’s in this Broccoli Walnut Pesto Pasta?
This pasta recipe is super simple and uses mostly fresh ingredients that you can find everywhere. You can also use, add or omit some of the ingredients as desired- have fun with it and make it your own! Below is the list of what you’ll need and possible substitutions.
- Walnut halves- I love toasting them because it brings out more of their nutty and earthy flavors plus adds an amazing smoky taste too! If you do not have this, you can use other nuts like pecans, pine nuts, or macadamia.
- Broccoli- I like using fresh broccoli to make the pasta sauce. But frozen broccoli florets can also be used in this recipe. This will not only make the dish a whole lot healthier but also makes the sauce super creamy!
- Basil leaves- this sweet and minty herb is the foundation of any good pesto sauce.
- Garlic- to give the pasta sauce a sharp savory kick!
- Stock- you can use either chicken stock or vegetable broth. This will give the sauce a depth of flavor and better consistency.
- Red pepper flakes- a touch of heat never goes amiss! Add more or less depending on your preference. You can also use chili powder or chili oil if that is what you have.
- Lemon juice- a few drops of citrus goodness will certainly brighten up the sauce mixture. You can also use lime juice or apple cider vinegar.
- Olive oil- this gives the sauce a silkier texture. You can use other neutral-tasting oil.
- Parmesan cheese
- Pasta- you can use your favorite type.
- Kosher salt and pepper -to taste.
- Add more Vegetables. While you are at it, might as well go all out and add more vegetables that you might have on your chillier waiting to be used! Try adding kale, arugula, or spinach to the sauce mixture.
- A Nut-free Version. If you are allergic to nuts but still want to try this dish, you can use seeds instead. Sunflower or pumpkin seeds will work for this recipe.
- Gluten-free Broccoli Walnut Pesto Pasta. Use gluten-free pasta like brown rice, zucchini, or chickpea pasta.
- Veganize it! It s really easy to make a plant-based version of this dish. All you have to do is use vegetable broth and vegan parmesan.
- Meat-up! Make it more substantial by adding proteins like chicken, pork, fish, bacon, or shrimp.
How to Make Broccoli Walnut Pesto Pasta
All you need is a skillet to toast the nuts with, a blender, and a pot to cook the pasta with. You will have this pasta dish on your table in less than 15 minutes! You can even make the sauce ahead of time so you can just toss it with cooked pasta anytime you are in the mood for one!
- Toast the Nuts. Preheat a skillet to medium heat. Add the walnuts and gently toss until toasted, about 5 minutes.
- Make the Sauce. In a food processor, pulse together ¼ cup walnuts and garlic cloves. Next, add in the chopped broccoli, basil, stock, red pepper flakes, ¾ tsp kosher salt, ¼ tsp ground pepper, and lemon juice. Pulse until mostly combined. Take the olive oil and while the food processor is running drizzle it down the feed tube, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Next, add in the 2 tbsp cheese and pulse until the pesto is smooth.
- Cook the Pasta. Once the pesto is prepped, cook the pasta according to the package instructions. You will want to reserve ½ cup of pasta water just in case.
- Toss. Add the cooked pasta to a mixing bowl and toss with pesto. Add the pasta water as needed until the pesto has covered all the pasta.
- Serve. Transfer pasta to a serving bowl. Garnish with remaining cheese, walnuts, and basil. Serve and enjoy!
What Else Can I use the Broccoli-Walnut Pesto for?
Aside from using it to make delicious pasta, you can also enjoy the sauce in different ways! Here are some ideas to try:
- Spread it on bread or use it as a sandwich dressing. This would be amazing with Beef Stroganoff Meatball Sandwich. Yum!
- Use it as a sauce base for chicken, turkey, pork, or salmon dishes.
- Drizzle it over grilled meats and veggies.
- Use it as a dip for crackers, pretzels, or fresh vegetables.
- Enjoy it on pizzas with your choice of toppings.
Make Ahead and Storing Notes
You can make the sauce ahead of time and place it in a jar or container for future use. You can keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days and in the freezer for months. Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container and consumed within 3 days. You can reheat using the microwave or oven.
Broccoli Walnut Pesto Pasta
- 1/4 cup Chopped walnuts + more for garnish
- 1/2 cup Packed fresh basil leaves + more for garnish
- 3 cloves Garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 1/2 cups Raw chopped brocoli
- 1/2 cup Chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/4 tsp Red Pepper flakes
- kosher salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp Fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp Olive oil, add more as needed
- 2 tbsp Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 10 ounces Favorite pasta
- Preheat a skillet to medium heat. Add the walnuts and gently toss until toasted, about 5 minutes.
- In a food processor, pulse together walnuts and garlic cloves. Next, add in the chopped broccoli, basil, stock, red pepper flakes, 3⁄4 tsp kosher salt, 1⁄4 tsp ground pepper, and lemon juice. Pulse until mostly combined. Take the olive oil and while the food processor is running drizzle it down the feed tube, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Next, add in the 2 tbsp cheese and pulse until the pesto is smooth.
- Once the pesto is prepped, cook the pasta according to the package instructions. You will want to reserve 1⁄2 cup of pasta water just in case. Next, add the cooked pasta to a mixing bowl and toss with pesto. Add the pasta water as needed until the pesto has covered all the pasta.
- To serve, transfer pasta to a serving bowl. Garnish with remaining cheese, walnuts, and basil. Serve and enjoy!