Broccoli, pesto, and green olives—believe it! This pasta recipe tastes so fresh. It’s perfectly suited for springtime dinners, though I think you’ll want to keep it in your repertoire for the rest of the year.
I wouldn’t have come up with this pasta combination myself, so I’m glad I found the recipe in my friend Kelly Senyei’s new cookbook, The Secret Ingredient Cookbook. You might know Kelly from her blog, Just a Taste. Kelly is a delightful person, a professionally trained chef and a hard-working mom to three boys, all under the age of five.
Kelly’s new cookbook offers 125 family-friendly recipes with fun secret ingredient twists. I don’t want to spoil all the surprises, but I’m looking forward to trying the Caesar pasta salad (with avocado), Greek chopped salad (with halloumi cheese), 30-minute mac and cheese (with pumpkin) and mushroom ravioli with brown butter sauce (with goat cheese, and made entirely from scratch). And good gracious, wait until you see the desserts.
This broccoli pesto pasta recipe includes green olives as the secret ingredient. They offer a delicious briny olive flavor and cover up the flavor of the broccoli. She says her boys absolutely love this dish, so this dish is designed for the whole family. I found some ricotta in my fridge and really enjoyed a few dollops over my bowl. Serve it as you please!
Broccoli Pesto Pasta Notes & Tips
- This pasta comes together quickly for weeknight dinners. It’s ready in just over 30 minutes.
- Kelly says this pasta can be served warm, at room temperature, or chilled, so it’s perfect for all seasons.
- This pasta could easily be made dairy free/vegan. Just omit the cheese, and see the recipe notes for suggested alternatives.
- Use as much of the pesto as you’d like, and freeze any leftover pesto for later (see recipe note for details). I love saucy pastas, so I used all of it.
- I love to serve this pasta with a few dollops of ricotta, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and a light drizzle of olive oil. If you (or your kids) prefer more mellow flavors, serve it as written instead!
How to Make Broccoli Pesto Pasta
You’ll love how this recipe comes together. Find the full recipe below or in Kelly’s book on page 129. Here’s the gist:
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the broccoli for a few minutes. Then, transfer the broccoli to a blender and use the boiling water to cook the pasta.
- In the meantime, toast the pine nuts in a skillet for a few minutes to bring out their best, most nutty flavor. Transfer the pine nuts to the blender.
- Add the remaining pesto ingredients to the blender (drained olives, basil, garlic, Parmesan and black pepper). Reserve some of the pasta cooking water before draining the pasta, and add 1/2 cup to the blender.
- Pulse the pesto to combine. While running the blender, drizzle in olive oil and blend until puréed.
- Pour as much pesto into the pasta as you’d like, toss, and serve.
More Veggie Pasta Dishes to Enjoy
Here are a few more of my favorite pasta recipes:
- Best Vegetable Lasagna
- Caprese Pasta Salad
- Lemony Green Pasta with Peas & Ricotta
- Pasta alla Norma
- Spinach Stuffed Shells with Marinara
Be sure to check out The Secret Ingredient Cookbook for more delicious, family-friendly recipes! Please let us know how the recipe turns out in the comments.
Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Green Olives
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 4 to 6 servings 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
- Diet: Vegetarian
Make this broccoli pesto pasta for a fresh and veggie-packed dinner! This recipe features broccoli, toasted pine nuts, green olives and Parmesan. The green olives disguise the broccoli flavor and bring this dish to life. Recipe yields 4 to 6 servings.
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 1 pound uncooked pasta, such as rigatoni or penne
- 1 cup green olives, drained and pitted
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves (about 1 ⅓ ounce, or 2 small containers)
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Several twists of freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt, to taste
- Optional, for serving (my additions): Dollops of ricotta and/or red pepper flakes, drizzle of olive oil
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the broccoli florets and cook for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli to a blender.
- Bring the water back to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes, or according to package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
- Cook the pine nuts in a small saucepan set over medium heat, moving the nuts around, until fragrant and toasted, about 3 minutes.
- Add the pine nuts to the broccoli in the blender, along with the olives, basil, garlic, Parmesan, pepper, and ½ cup of the reserved pasta cooking water. Pulse until combined, stopping to stir as necessary.
- With the blender running, stream in the olive oil, stopping the blender and scraping down the sides as needed, until the pesto is pureed. Taste and season with salt and additional pepper.
- In a large bowl, toss together the pasta with your desired amount of pesto (I used all of it), thinning it with additional reserved pasta water 2 tablespoons at a time if needed. Sprinkle with some additional grated Parmesan, if you’d like.
- Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled. Serve in individual bowls, as-is or with dollops of ricotta, sprinkle of red pepper flakes or a light drizzle of olive oil. Leftover pesto pasta keeps well in the fridge, covered, for 4 days.
This recipe comes from The Secret Ingredient Cookbook by Kelly Senyei.
Make it dairy free/vegan: Omit the Parmesan and don’t add ricotta. You might like a sprinkle of Vegan Parmesan or Vegan Sour Cream in their place, but I bet it’s lovely with just an extra drizzle of olive oil.
Make it gluten free: Substitute your favorite sturdy gluten-free noodles, such as a corn and quinoa blend.
Kelly’s leftover pesto tip: Pour it into ice cube trays, then cover securely with plastic wrap and freeze. When ready to serve, pop out a pesto cube or two and defrost in the microwave or on the stovetop with your pasta of choice.
▸ Nutrition Information
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice. See our full nutrition disclosure here.
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