Broccoli and Walnut Pesto Orecchiete

PREP TIME: 10mins


A quick & delicious supper ready in the time it takes to cook the pasta. Orecchiette means ‘little ears’ in Italian but if its hard to find you can use penne instead. Walnuts adds a robust bitterness to the pasta dish, so if bitter is not your thing use pecans instead. Vegan: hold off on the parmesan.

Serving Suggestion:

Use any nut for the pesto, sunflower seeds work well, pine nuts or even pecans.

Tenderstem broccoli makes a good alternative too.



  • 400g dried orecchiette
  • 400g broccoli
  • 150g walnut halves
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 200g basil leaves
  • 100/120ml good olive oil
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 35g pecorino or parmesan
  • sea salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 180°c. Place walnut on a baking tray. Roast for 5-8 minutes or until lightly toasted. Cool slightly.

Pulse the garlic, salt and two thirds of the walnuts in a food processor to rough crumb consistency. Throw in the basil leaves and the oil then blend to a smooth paste, stir in the cheese and lemon zest and taste, adding a little more salt if you feel the need.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the orecchiete and follow the packet directions.

While the pasta is cooking, cut the broccoli florets and stalk into small pieces. Add the broccoli stalk to the pan 3 minutes before the pasta is ready and the florets for the final 2 minutes of cooking.

Drain, reserving a bit of pasta water (1/4 cup)  and tip the pasta and broccoli into a large, warmed bowl, add the pesto and toss to coat. If the mixture seems very stiff you can add tiny amounts of the pasta water, tablespoon at a time to loosen the mixture.

To serve: divide the pasta mixture between four warmed serving bowls, crush the remaining walnuts over the top, season to perfection and finish with a little grated pecorino.

Kitchen Story:

Recipe inspired by the legend Rich Harris Root and Leaf

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