Roasted Broccoli Pesto Pasta

4.67 from 6 votes

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This easy roasted broccoli pesto pasta takes less than 20 minutes to make and has just 9 ingredients. It’s a simple vegetarian pasta recipe that’s perfect for fall and winter or anytime of the year. You only need a cup of roasted broccoli for the pesto, and then you stir the rest of the florets into the penne noodles.

Roasted broccoli pasta on a plate.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Broccoli pesto is a quick and easy pasta sauce. By roasting broccoli at a high temperature, you can cook it in 10 minutes or so. Then the food processor does the work chopping and pureeing everything into pesto.

This recipe has less than 10 ingredients. There is nothing complicated about this vegetable-focused pasta, and it still delivers on taste. It’s great for a weeknight vegetarian dinner.

Pesto is a year-round sauce. Don’t limit yourself to basil pesto, which tastes best during the summer. Just change the feature ingredient depending on the season. Broccoli is great for fall and winter pastas.

The Ingredients

Ingredients including broccoli, penne, pine nuts, parmesan, olive oil, lemon, garlic, salt and pepper.

This is what you need:

  • Broccoli: When you are choosing broccoli, the individual florets should be tightly packed together. Avoid any that are yellowing because they won’t be as fresh.
  • Penne: My first pick for pasta is penne with ridges, so this more chunky pesto will really cling to the noodles. You can also substitute with orecchiette or fusilli. 
  • Pine nuts: Toast the pine nuts before you add them to the pesto. You can do this in the oven on a sheet pan at 350 degrees F for about 5 minutes. Just make sure to watch the nuts, so they don’t get too dark. You can use chopped walnuts or almonds instead.
  • Garlic: The recipe calls for 2 garlic cloves. If you prefer it less garlicky, then just use 1 clove.
  • Parmesan: Just like a classic basil pesto, this one has Parmesan cheese. For another hard cheese option, pecorino, which is more pungent and salty, will also work in this pesto.
  • Lemon: Fresh lemon juice adds brightness to the broccoli pasta. Always use fresh and never bottled.
  • Olive oil: For the best flavor, use high quality extra virgin olive oil to roast the broccoli and in the actual pesto.
  • Salt & pepper: I season the broccoli before it roasts, and then I add a little more when I puree the pesto.

How To Make This Roasted Broccoli Pesto Recipe

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

1. Toss the broccoli with oil, salt and pepper. You can do this right on the baking sheet. Spread it out in a single layer taking advantage of all the space on the pan.

2. Roast the broccoli. Because the oven temperature is high, the broccoli will roast fast. It should turn out lightly browned at the edges, but still crisp.

Broccoli on a sheet pan before and after it is roasted.

3. Put the pesto ingredients in a food processor blender. That includes roasted broccoli, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan and lemon juice. Finely chop them. You will only need a cup of broccoli for the pesto. The rest you will fold into the pasta.

4. Drizzle the oil into the feeder tube and puree the pesto until it is fully combined.

Pesto ingredients in a food processor before and after they are pureed.

5. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water. Follow the recommended cook time on the package for al dente pasta. Save 1/2 cup cooking water and drain the pasta.

6. Stir the pesto into the pasta. Then add the roasted broccoli and a splash of the reserved pasta water as needed.

Pasta simmering in a large pot. Cooked pasta and pesto combined in a bowl.


You can serve this broccoli pasta with a basic arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette, a classic house salad or an Italian chopped salad. For a vegetable side dish, try sautéed brussels sprouts or sautéed broccolini. You can also serve it with a piece of bread with a nice crust that you can dip into the pesto sauce. 

Make-Ahead Tips, Leftovers & Storage

You can make the broccoli pesto up to 2 days in advance. Just let it sit out at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. This will give the oil time to turn to liquid again because it will harden in the cold temperature of the fridge. Store the pesto in one airtight container and the roasted broccoli in another. Warm that broccoli in a 350-degree F oven for 5-7 minutes before assembling this pasta dish.

Leftover broccoli pasta can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Warm it in the microwave. The broccoli will lose some of its crunch and the pasta will soften a little. You can also eat it cold like a pasta salad. If you do this, I recommend also stirring in baby arugula or spinach.

Broccoli pesto pasta in a bowl.

Recipe Tips

If you use different pasta shape than penne, make sure it is a short one. Long thin noodles like spaghetti will get weighed down by this chunky sauce.

Make sure not to overcook the pasta. As mentioned, follow the recommended package cook time. The noodles should be al dente and have some bite.

Don’t forget to save some of the pasta cooking water. This pesto is thicker than fresh basil pesto. You may not need the entire half cup of that starchy water, but it will help the sauce coat the noodles.

Scrape down the sides of the food processor after you chop the ingredients and before you drizzle in the oil. This will help the pesto puree more evenly.

Recipe FAQs

Can you make this broccoli pesto recipe vegan?

Yes, you can either leave out the cheese or use a plant-based version. If you do skip the Parmesan, I suggest sprinkling the pasta with nutritional yeast before you serve it.

Can you use gluten-free pasta instead of traditional pasta?

The most important thing with the pasta, no matter the type, is that you cook it, so it is al dente. Yes, you can substitute with gluten-free pastas, but just keep that in mind for ones that cooker softer. This is a thicker pesto.

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Roasted Broccoli Pesto Pasta

4.67 from 6 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Total: 17 minutes
Servings: 4
This roasted broccoli pesto is an easy vegetarian sauce for pasta with pine nuts, lemon, Parmesan and garlic. Stir it into a bowl of penne pasta.


  • 1 pound small to medium broccoli florets
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan plus more for serving
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 8 ounces penne pasta


  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Toss the broccoli with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper and spread it across on a sheet pan in a single layer.
  • Roast the broccoli until it is crisp-tender and starting to brown at the edges, about 10-12 minutes.
  • For the pesto, finely chop 1 cup roasted broccoli, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan and lemon juice in a food processor or blender. With the motor running, pour in 1/2 cup olive oil through the feeder tube, processing the mixture until it is fully combined.
  • Cook the pasta until al dente according to package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water before draining.
  • In a large bowl, stir the pesto into the pasta. Then fold in the remaining roasted broccoli. Add a little cooking water as needed to help the pesto coat the noodles. You may not need the entire 1/2 cup.
  • Divide into serving bowls or onto plates and top with additional parmesan as desired.


You can use chopped walnuts or almonds instead of pine nuts.
If you prefer the pesto to be less garlicky, use 1 garlic clove rather than 2.
To make the pesto vegan, leave out the Parmesan or use a plant-based version. If you do omit the cheese, sprinkle the finished dish with nutritional yeast.
You can make the broccoli pesto up to 2 days in advance. Let it sit out at room temperature for 15-20 minutes and stir it. Store the pesto in an airtight container and the roasted broccoli in another separate container. Warm the broccoli in a 350-degree F oven for 5-7 minutes before assembling this pasta.
Store leftover pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Warm it in the microwave. The broccoli will lose some of its crunch and the pasta will soften. Or eat it cold as a pasta salad, adding baby arugula or spinach.


Calories: 339kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 732mg | Potassium: 574mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 767IU | Vitamin C: 109mg | Calcium: 129mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
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Hi, I'm Paige.

Welcome to Last Ingredient where you will find simple seasonal recipes with plenty of fruits and vegetables, all for the home cook.

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4.67 from 6 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating

1 Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Love this!
    Going to roast plenty of garlic along side the broccoli tho. 🙂
    (just not a fan of raw garlic)

    Thank you!