Broccoli Pesto with Cavatappi Pasta

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Broccoli pesto is a simple way to add more vegetables into your (or your kids') diet! Simply swap out traditional basil with 'riced' broccoli. Here's how.

Broccoli Pesto with Cavatappi Pasta

  • Author: Ruthy Kirwan
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes


  • 1 small head of broccoli (stem removed and chopped into florets)
  • 1/3 cup raw pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup ground parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large cloves garlic (peeled and smashed)
  • 3/4 cup olive oil (plus more)
  • 23 cups cooked cavatappi pasta



  1. Add the broccoli florets to a large food processor (6-8 quart) fitted with an “S” blade. Pulse 5-6 times, scraping the sides of the bowl down as necessary. Turn the food processor to high and blend the broccoli. the broccoli will be ready when there are no more lumps and it has a sandy, “rice”-like appearance.
  2. Add the pine nuts, parmesan cheese, salt, garlic, and 1/2 cup olive oil to the food processor.
  3. Pulse again, 3-4 times, and the scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue pulsing 3-4 times, then scraping, until the pesto has come together to form a rough paste.
  4. Turn the food processor to high and pour in the remaining oil through the feeder tube. Pause to scrape the sides of the bowl.
  5. If the pesto is still ‘dry’ looking and not a smooth, oiled paste, add another 1/4 cup of olive oil and blend again, pausing to scrape the sides after a minute or so. Continue adding oil 1/4 cup at a time and blending until the pesto is a cohesive, smooth paste.
  6. Fold 1 cup of pesto into the cooked pasta and serve. Freeze any remaining pesto (see notes)


This pesto makes about 2 cups, which is more than you’ll usually need as a simple side. I recommend using 1 cup to fold into 2-3 cups cooked pasta, and freezing the rest. It will last in the freezer for up to 6 months if stored in a tightly covered container or freezer safe ziplock bag, or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Feel free to swap out the cavatappi for any other type of pasta! We like this pesto on penne as well.