This broccoli pesto pasta is one of the first recipes I ever developed – and I’m happy to report I still love it, considering I was only a teenager at the time.
Although as a child I was always at my mom’s side as she was cooking, it wasn’t until I discovered the Food Network when I was 12 or so that I got the urge to try cooking on my own (shout-out to Rachael, Giada, and Ina for the inspiration!). I started out basic – albeit pretty creative. I distinctly remember a warm salad of white rice with chopped up tomatoes and chicken nuggets. It was… interesting.
But I kept going, and after a few years and a plethora of other questionable creations, my food went from, “I think this is edible…” to, “This is pretty good!” (God bless my family for dutifully eating my experiments night after night.)
Broccoli pesto pasta was one of those experiments and was probably inspired by something I’d seen on TV. My family and I loved it and it became a staple in our dinner rotation. But as I got older and started spending less time at home – and eventually moved out of my parents’ house altogether – the recipe kinda faded away from my repertoire. Until recently, that is, when my mom casually mentioned on the phone she was making my broccoli pesto pasta for dinner. So, I remade it and it was just as good as I remembered.
This version is slightly more elevated than the original, since my cooking style has definitely evolved in the past decade. First off, the broccoli pesto recipe is now vegan and uses savory-salty miso instead of Parmesan cheese; it’s also nut-free, utilizing pumpkin seeds in place of pine nuts. I’ve added creamy butter beans to elevate the recipe’s protein content, as well as my beloved shiitake bacon to differentiate the texture and add some meatiness (for lack of a better term). This broccoli pesto pasta is one of my go-to pasta dishes and I hope you’ll love it as much as we do.
This vegan broccoli pesto pasta recipe is a delicious way to get more vegetables into your diet and perfect for weeknights.
For the Pasta and Shiitake Bacon:
- Fine sea salt
- 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms (about 8 medium mushrooms), stemmed and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound orecchiette (or other short-cut pasta like farfalle or fusilli)
- One 14-ounce can of butter beans, drained and rinsed
For the Broccoli Pesto:
- Fine sea salt
- 1 small head of broccoli, stemmed and cut into florets (about 4 cups)
- 1 packed cup basil leaves, (about ½ bunch)
- ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds* (you may also use pine nuts, walnuts, or almonds)
- 1 large garlic clove
- 1 heaping tablespoon miso
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
- Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil for the pasta, and simultaneously bring a bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to a boil for the broccoli.
- Meanwhile, make the Shiitake Bacon: Place the mushrooms on a baking sheet (if your baking sheet is not non-stick, use parchment paper), drizzle with the oil and ¼ teaspoon salt, and toss to coat. Arrange in a single layer and roast until browned and crispy, 20 to 25 minutes, tossing once halfway through cooking. Remove from the oven and set aside; the ‘bacon’ will crisp up as it cools.
- Make the Pesto: Cook the broccoli in the medium pot of water for 2 minutes, just until it turns bright green. Drain and run it under cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain well and transfer to a food processor. Pulse until the broccoli is broken down. Add the basil, pumpkin seeds, garlic, miso, black pepper, and ¼ teaspoon salt and pulse until everything is broken down. With the motor running, slowly stream in the olive oil and lemon juice, and puree until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.
- Cook the pasta in the large pot of boiling water according to package directions until al dente. Reserve ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta. Return the pasta to the pot and add the pesto, beans, most of the shiitake bacon (save a bit for garnishing), and the reserved pasta cooking water. Stir to combine, taste, and adjust the seasonings if needed. Serve immediately.
- Serving Size: 1/6 of the recipe
- Calories: 438
- Fiber: 5.7 g
- Protein: 13.3 g