Broccoli Pesto Pasta

PREP TIME: 15mins


The perfect QUICK meal to feed a crowd on a hot summers evening. This dish is so versatile as it can be served hot or at room temperature and any leftovers can be eaten the next day as a scrumptious salad.

The dish travels well making it perfect picnic food.

A healthy double dose of broccoli in my version of a pesto pasta. You can make this dish your own by adding all the broccoli if you like lots of ‘greens’ or less if you are not totally convinced of all the greens. You can serve the rest of the broccoli alongside the pasta.

I used gluten-free pasta here but you can use any pasta, although I tend to think that ‘short’ pasta shapes works better with pesto.

Serves 6 or 4 with leftovers

Getting Ahead: Veggies can be prepped and cooked a day ahead.

Leftovers: Perfect packed lunch, just remember to season well and be generous with the olive oil

Serving Suggestion:

The addition of sun-dried tomatoes and black pitted kalamata olives would be magic. Double up on the chilli if you can .

If you are having dairy, a generous topping of aged pecorino or vegetarian parmesan would be amazing as would crumbled goats feta.

What you'll need:

A bowl of iced

Food processor to blitz the broccoli – you can chop the broccoli finely by hand too.



  • 1 big jar basil pesto 
  • 300g broccoli, broken into florets
  • 230g broccolini
  • 1/2 red pepper, white membrane and seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 400g gluten-free penne pasta
  • 1 lemon, zested and juice reserved
  • (more lemon zest to serve)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • pinch of dried or fresh chilli (opt)
  • salt & pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil

Optional Garnishes

  • pine nuts to garnish
  • loose basil leaves to garnish
  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • a good parmesan


  1. Whizz the broccoli in a food processor until it resembles rice or couscous, set aside.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add a few pinches of salt. We are going to cook the broccolini and the pasta in the same water.
  3. Get your bowl with iced water ready. Add the broccolini and simmer for about 3 minutes or until tender but still with a good bite to it. Remove with tongs and plunge in the iced water (see note).
  4. Check the water levels and add more water if not enough to cook the pasta, bring back to a boil and add the pasta, give it a good twirl and cook according to package instructions.
  5. We will cook the whizzed broccoli into batches.
  6. Place a large frying pan on medium heat, add a glug of olive oil and once warm add the broccoli, chilli if using and a some of the red peppers and gently fry until soft, about 4 minutes, once soft, add some garlic stir until fragrant and remove, place into a bowl. Season well with salt, lemon zest, bit of juice & pepper and continue with the rest of the broccoli and red peppers. until everything is done. Give it a final season.
  7. When the pasta is ready, drain, season and drizzle with olive oil to keep the pasta moist. I prefer to ‘toss’ my pasta in a separate large bowl, adding the pesto, desired amount of broccoli  and season well before serving on a platter.
  8. Get a pretty platter ready, add the pasta mixture and garnish with basil, lemon zest, salt & pepper and any of the desired garnishes of choice.
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