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Broccoli Pesto is the twist on pesto you never knew you needed. Roasted Broccoli pulsed with classic pesto ingredients makes for the most delicious pasta imaginable!
Roasted Broccoli Pesto
One of the absolute keys to this version of broccoli pesto being so delicious is roasting of the broccoli.
I tinkered around with this recipe a lot, but started off by using raw broccoli and blitzing it with pesto ingredients. I knew there was potential, but something wasn’t sitting right with me. The broccoli just wasn’t shining through as it should be. Sooooooooo, I roasted the buggers before blitzing and the difference was huge.
Roasting transforms the flavour AND texture of broccoli and quite frankly I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner. Just pop it in a tray with a good glug of oil and a hefty pinch of salt & pepper and roast until tender and slightly charred. THAT my friend, will give you the base of a delicious broccoli pesto.
Top Tip #1 – It’s important to let the broccoli cool for a few mins after roasting, otherwise it’ll steam up in the food processor and add moisture to the pesto.
Basil Broccoli Pesto
The second mistake I made whilst testing this recipe was to replace the basil with broccoli. Again, something was lacking.
OKAY I HEAR YOU. Obviously it was the basil… Learn from my mistakes, add your broccoli to the basil pesto, don’t replace the basil.
I’ve got a more comprehensive post on How to make Basil Pesto, so do check that out if you’ve got time, but for now here’s what you’ll need for the broccoli version:
Broccoli Pesto Ingredients
- Roasted Broccoli
- Fresh Basil
- Freshly Grated Parmesan
- Pine Nuts
- Lemon Juice
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Feel free to toast your pine nuts for extra flavour!
Ensure you use freshly grated parmesan, not the sandy type or pre packed stuff, it’ll affect the texture of your pesto. Also ensure you use extra virgin olive oil, not just regular olive oil. This will effect the flavour of your pesto quite significantly.
Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Bacon
Because really, I know we’ve heard it all before, but bacon really DOES make everything better 😏 At least in this case anyway. The bacon adds a nice rich salty flavour to the pesto and also bulks it out a little bit.
The process itself is actually really simple. The main thing I recommend is to combine everything in a bowl. Or at least in the pan with the heat OFF. Direct heat causes fresh basil to burn and pesto to go greasy. The leftover heat from the pasta will gently cook the pesto.
How to make Broccoli Pesto with Bacon (quick summary)
- Add diced bacon to a pan.
- Fry until crisp.
- Add cooked pasta to a bowl.
- Combine with bacon, bacon grease and splash of pasta water.
- Stir to combine.
- Add broccoli pesto and chilli flakes (optional)
Top Tip #2 – Important to scoop the pasta water out just before draining, so it’s nice and starchy. This will emulsify with the oils and create the sauce.
And there we have it! The funkiest pesto pasta you’ll ever have, for all the right reasons. Quick to make, easy to prepare and absolutely delicious to make. If you like the sound of this then I’m confident you’ll love these too:
Alternative Pesto Recipes
- Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Pasta
- Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta
- Cheesy Pesto Garlic Bread
- Chicken Pesto Grilled Cheese
Fun Broccoli Recipes
- Crunchy Broccoli Salad with Bacon
- Cheesy Broccoli Baked Potatoes
- Broccoli Pasta Bake
- Broccoli and Cauliflower Cheese
Alrighty, let’s tuck into this broccoli pesto pasta recipe!
How to make Broccoli Pesto Pasta(Full Recipe & Video)
Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Bacon
Broccoli Pesto is the twist on pesto you never knew you needed. Roasted Broccoli pulsed with classic pesto ingredients makes for the most delicious pasta imaginable!!
5 from 6 votes
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Servings (click & slide): 4
Course: Dinner / Lunch / Main Course
Cuisine: Fusion / Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Calories per serving: 698kcal
Author: Chris Collins
Cost per serving: £2 / $2.50
Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
Ingredients (check list):
- 12.3oz / 350g Short Cut Pasta (here I used a fancy type of Fusilli)
- 1x 12.3oz / 350g head of Broccoli, cut into florets (approx 7oz/200g)
- 1/2lb / 250g Streaky Bacon, diced
- 1/2 cup / 125ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or as needed
- 1.4oz / 40g freshly grated Parmesan
- 10 large Fresh Basil Leaves
- 4 tbsp Pine Nuts (optionally toasted)
- 1 small clove of Garlic
- 1/2 Lemon (juice only)
- 1/4 tsp Salt, or to taste
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper, or to taste
- Chilli Flakes (optional)
Pop 7oz/200g broccoli florets on a baking tray and combine with a good glug of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Use your hands to evenly coat, then pop in the oven at 390f/200c for 15-20mins, or until slightly charred and fork tender (timing will depend on size of your florets). Allow to rest for 5 mins once taken out.
Meanwhile, add 1/2lb/250g diced bacon to a pan over medium heat and fry until crispy, with as much fat rendered as possible.
Pop 12.3oz/350g pasta in a pot of well salted boiling water and cook until al dente, retaining a cup of starchy pasta water just before draining.
Pop your roasted broccoli in a food processor with 10 large basil leaves, 1.4oz/40g freshly grated parmesan, 4 tbsp pine nuts, the juice of half a lemon, 1 small clove of garlic and 1/4 tsp salt and pepper (or to taste). Turn on the motor and gradually pour in 1/2cup/125ml extra virgin olive oil until well combined.
In a large bowl, combine pasta and bacon (& about a tbsp worth of leftover fat) with a splash of pasta water. Pour in pesto, add a pinch of chilli flakes if using, then use a spatula to stir and thoroughly combine, using pasta water to thin out if needed.
Quick 1 min demo!
a) Do I have to add bacon? - In short - no. BUT bacon and broccoli IS a match made in heaven, and it adds a gorgeous rich and salty flavour to the pasta. I've made the recipe many times, but never without bacon. I'm sure it'll be just as delicious without though.
b) Allowing Broccoli to cool - Important step otherwise it'll steam up in the food processor and add too much moisture in the pesto.
c) Bowl vs Pan - As a general rule of thumb I never heat pesto over a pan as it burns the basil and makes the pasta go greasy. This is why I combine in a bowl, where the heat from the pasta will gently cook the pesto (plus the broccoli is already roasted). You could mix in the pan, just make sure the heat if OFF.
d) Pasta Water - The starchy pasta water emulsifies with the fat and creates a sauce. Don't go overboard though you won't need much.
e) How to serve - I usually mix through a few extra pine nuts and some tiny basil leaves if you've got them. Always good to finish with a sprinkling of parmesan too if you fancy it!
f) Calories - Assuming all the bacon fat is used, 1 tbsp olive oil to roast broccoli and 1/2 cup for pesto. Shared between 4:
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Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Bacon
Amount Per Serving
Calories 698Calories from Fat 528
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 5.782g29%
Trans Fat 0.1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 6.17g
Monounsaturated Fat 22.168g
Vitamin A 528IU11%
Vitamin C 47.4mg57%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition is based on the absence of salt unless stated as a measurement in the ingredients. Cost is worked out based on ingredients bought from UK supermarkets, then divided by the number of servings. In both instances these values are just for guidance. Please check out my FAQ Page for more info.
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