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
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- 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.
No pine nuts in “ingredients”?
Sorry J, just fixed it. You’ll need 3 tablespoons.
Thanks, Kate. Just FYI (for others who are interested in the future): don’t know if it’s only how I’m bringing the recipe up anew, but pine nuts still aren’t listed in the “ingredient” list. No further response needed for me, though!
Am I missing the pine nuts in the ingredients? Looking forward to making this!
Yes, I neglected to add that line! I’m sorry. You’ll need 3 tablespoons.
Hi, this doesn’t state the quantity of pine nuts needed?
Sorry! 3 tablespoons
Do not see pine nut quantity for this recipe
Sorry about that! 3 tablespoons
I don’t see the pine nuts listed on the ingredient list. What quantity of pine nuts are needed? Can I substitute a more budget friendly nut? I love your recipes and this sounds yummy. I can’t wait to make it.
Sorry about that, Anita! I’ve just corrected the ingredients list to include 3 tablespoons pine nuts. Almonds would be a great substitute, if that works for you. I would toast them until fragrant and turning lightly golden on the edges, just like the pine nuts.
The amount of pine nuts was omit from the ingredients list. Sounds yummy.
You’re right and I’m sorry about that! The recipe calls for 3 tablespoons.
How much of the pine nuts go in this recipe? I don’t see it listed in the ingredients. I can’t wait to try it! Thanks!
Three tablespoons, sorry about that!
The instructions for broccoli pesto include pine nuts, but I don’t see pine nuts in the ingredient list.
Sorry Cathy—you’ll need 3 tablespoons pine nuts for this recipe. I’ve just corrected the ingredients list.
How many pine nuts?
Three tablespoons, sorry about that!
Thank you! I put in about 4 tbs – still tasted delicious! Great recipe :)
Looks good but how many pinenuts
Three tablespoons, sorry about that!
John G. LeConche
Looking for the amount of pine nuts used. I don’t see it in the ingredients?
Hey John, good catch. I’ve just fixed the recipe. It calls for three tablespoons of pine nuts.
Hello – looks delicious and love the addition of the olives so cant wait to try it but I have noticed that you have pine nuts in the instructions but not in the ingredients list – how much do you add to the recipe please? Can pine nuts be omitted and replaced with something else if someone has an allergy to them?
Hi Narelle! I just corrected the recipe. It calls for 3 tablespoons pine nuts. You could substitute almonds if that works for the allergy. Otherwise, I think you could either omit them or maybe use pepitas.
Thank you, Kate! Can’t wait to try this. What about the quantity of pine nuts?
Three tablespoons! Sorry about that.
Hi Kate, how much pine nuts is needed?
Three tablespoons, sorry about that!
Absolutely amazing! I add two teaspoons of trader Joe’s soffritto seasoning and it adds even more spice and flavor
Thank you for sharing, Emma! I appreciate your review.
Would love to try this recipe but it does not give the quantity of pine nuts needed.
Hi Dianne, sorry about that! Three tablespoons.
I really enjoy your recipes. Hubby and I are vegan so I’m grateful you always add extra comments for the vegans. I went through this recipe a number of times and cannot find the amount of pine nuts needed. Could you please let me know? Looking forward to cooking this one up.
Thank you so much, Jackie! Sorry about the omission. You’ll need 3 tablespoons of pine nuts.
I don’t see pine nuts listed in the ingredients.
Sorry Lisa! You’ll need 3 tablespoons.
There are no pine nuts in the ingredients list. How much should I use? Thanks!
So sorry! Just 3 tablespoons.
Thanks so much for sharing, Kate!
The book is beautiful, Kelly!
Thank you for the recipe and for all the other great ones on your blog. As I read through the list of ingredients I don’t see the pine nuts amount listed.
Hi Jason, So sorry about that! It’s been updated now. I hope you make it and let me know what you think.
This looks delicious! I don’t see in the recipe the amount for the pine nuts. If you could please let me know I would appreciate it.
It’s been updated! Sorry about that. I hope you love it.
I made this tonight – it was really tasty, very satisfying and I LOVED that the pesto had so much broccoli in it. I had more broccoli on hand than the 2C in the recipe, and I blanched some of the littlest florets to be a garnish or mix in over the whole dish. This is exactly what I want to eat right now, and I want to check out this cookbook! Thanks for the post!
I love your idea of adding more broccoli! Delicious. Thank you for sharing, Becki.
This looks delish! Definitely going to make on the weekend :) (Also, lol at all the comments about pine nuts!)
So many!! Hope you enjoy it! :)
Hi, the recipe leaves out the measurement for the pine nuts.
I’m gonna guesstimate though because I really want to try this recipe..
Btw, I have your book and have really enjoyed everything I have made so far.
Hi Suzanna, it calls for 3 tablespoons.
This was delicious!!! My teen even liked it and she is super picky. I used toasted walnuts instead of pine nuts as this is what I had. Sooo yummy!!
Awesome, thanks Jennifer!
Would this recipe work with Broccoli Rabe instead of Broccoli florets?
Hi Emily, possibly! Broccoli rabe has a much more pungent flavor. As long as you like that, I think it would work. Also, I would boil the rabe until you can easily pierce through the stems with a fork (it’s a little tougher than regular broccoli).
I don’t see where you specify the amount of pine nuts. My eyes are bad, so maybe I am just not seeing it.
Hi Lori! Sorry about that. The recipe just needs 3 tablespoons of pine nuts.
Great recipe! I’m not a huge fan of pesto but liked this. Next time I would ditch the garlic, even with the amount cut down the raw garlic was quite overpowering but perhaps the varieties in my region pack more punch.Will be making this again and topping with a smattering of goats cheese.
Hi Kate! Intrigued by the unusual combination, I made this the other day and both my husband and I were blown away by how flavorful it was. We are turning the leftovers into a frittata for lunch today.
I am curious about what kind of olives you used – I ransacked my fridge and combined castelvetranos, Greek green olives, and Sicilian spicy green olives, and it came out great, but I don’t always have an assortment like that in my fridge. Have you ever tried it with black olives? I was thinking kalamatas, though the color might not be very attractive…. Congratulations on another superb and easy recipe!
This was sooooo good! Subbed nutritional yeast for parm to make it vegan, and it was delicious. I hate olives, so was hesitant to try it, but I’m so glad i did! I plan to add this to my regular recipe rotation and share it with all my friends/family. I made it last night and I kind of want to make it again today, haha. Thank you – this is a winner!
Thank you for sharing how you adapted this. I know others will find it helpful.
My boys and I really enjoyed the dish! I played it cool with one of them that it contained olives, and he ate it without fussing. Speaking of olives, any tips on what kind work best? I opened a can from Trader Joe’s, and they tasted so similar to canned black olives, I decided to try something else- the jars of basic green olives we keep on hand, which are the really salty ones. Tips on a smoother puree welcome- I just used our food processor. We also went GF and dairy free, and subbed pumpkin seeds for allergy friendliness.
Oh no! I try to buy organic when I can or Divina are good too. Thanks for sharing your experience, Kirstin!
Looking forward to trying this recipe. I’m trying to avoid olive oil or any oil… haven’t done this before, but do you think I could use a little vegetable stock in place of olive oil or will the texture be off?
I personally haven’t tried it, but it may work. You will miss some of the flavor oil gives, but I’d be interested to see what you think.
Do you think kalamata olives will work? I have a huge jar of those and would be great to use them up.
I do love kalammata olives! I think that could work too. Let me know what you think.
We made this tonight and it was delicious! My daughter loves the pesto in a jar at Costco and now wants me to stop buying it and only make this. Luckily it was easy to make.
I love that! Thank you for your review, Tamara.
Just to let you know made it without the pine nuts, just all the other ingredients – only because we don’t like the taste of them. So quick and easy and it turned out perfectly without them. Awesome, thank you.
Thank you for sharing, Helen! I’m happy to hear that.
Tasty and simple – a really fun twist on pesto! I enjoyed this with gluten-free red lentil penne, with a couple sundried tomatoes on top.
I also appreciate how you re-use the water and don’t boil multiple pots – the little things that make it a bit more planet-friendly :)
Funny story – I was trying to double the recipe to make some extra to freeze, but I mistyped the recipe pretty badly when I was making my grocery list and got four heads of broccoli (not four cups of florets). It made nearly a gallon of pesto. Thankfully, as I said, it’s very tasty and freezes well. I will be eating and sharing this for some time, LOL.
Sun dried tomatoes sound nice! Thank you for sharing, Nat.
What a healthful and delicious recipe.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and will gladly make it again as well as for guests. Thank you Kate! And Cookie too…
Hooray! Thank you, Loretta!
I used walnuts instead of pine nuts. It was great!! Thanks Kate.
I’m glad to hear it! Thank you for reporting back, Kasumi. :)
Of the many kinds of green olives available, which are neat for this recipe?
Hi, pitted if you can find them. Any green olive would work.
Great recipe. Made it according to the instructions, and used a vegan parmesan in the pesto and on top for serving. The hub, who only likes broccoli when it is well disguised, thought it was great! Thank you so much for another keeper. You are a rock star. Hugs to you, from one Missouri girl,now in Texas, to another.
Thank you, Jeanne! I’m happy you enjoyed it.
Never seen so many questions about pine nuts, looks great
This was so delicious! I added lemon juice to it too. Thank you!!
Thanks, Ileana! Great idea!
Hey broccoli and olive pesto recipe looks good, thanks! Big fan of yours. But….don’t think you should be recommending pine nuts unless they are local and sustainably harvested. Recall an NYT piece a few years ago indicating that that global demand for pine nuts was resulting in overharvesting with likely detrimental ecosystem effects…
Tom Boo, MD
Tasty and easy to make. Substituted in brown rice pasta. Perfect for a quick and healthy week night dinner!
Great to hear, Melanie! I appreciate your review.
This is a new favorite!!! I added 1 more clove of garlic and the juice of half a lemon – which is always in any pesto I make :)
Olives aren’t my husband’s favorite so I used half a cup for my first go at this, but it’s so subtle that if I don’t tell him there’s olives I can definitely sneak in the whole cup. Ricotta on top with some EVOO was incredible and it started to melt which made it look super pretty and also a little gooey in a good way. Thanks for this cool spin on pesto!
I’m glad you tried it and your husband enjoyed it too. Thanks for sharing, Lyndsay.
Thanks for sharing this recipe. Do you think frozen broccoli could work in this recipe?
Hi Sam, I’m not sure as I haven’t tried it. Make sure its thawed and it may not need as much time in the water.
Fantastic recipe!! Besides the wonderful taste, my house ended up smelling like an Italian restaurant (my dream haha) thank you, Kate! Hope you and Cookie are enjoying the summer ❤️
Thank you, Mel!
Hi Kate – I am really keen to try this recipe but having difficulty finding pitted green olives. Plenty of stuffed ones available, but that seems to defeat the purpose!
Can any Australians/Melburnians help me out here?!
I’m sorry to hear that! You can always use a heavy bottomed cup and press them on a cutting board. More time consuming, but if you can’t find them.
This dish is delicious! We’re going to visit our daughter’s family this summer. We like to cook one of the dinners when we’re there. One grandson doesn’t eat meat, and he’s not too keen on vegetables either. (He calls himself a breadatarian.) I asked him if I could make this Broccoli Pesto Pasta when we visit and he said yes. I know he will love it!
Hi Kate, Can you tell me what blender you are using in those pictures? Thank you!
Hi! You can find all my essentials on my shop page. This is a Vitamix.
This recipe is delicious! I mixed the sauce at a 2:1 ratio with some low fat ricotta and it made it even better.
Made this today and loved it! My husband who is not a big fan of pesto otherwise, loved this version and so did I. Definitely a keeper and a great vegetarian option.
That’s great to hear, Wasima! Thank you for your review.
Hey Kate ! I made this dish today but I skipped the pine nuts and added lime juice and topped it off with chick peas for extra protein. Very yummy recipe !
I’m happy to hear you enjoyed it with your adjustments, Martina!
Hello Kate….I have made many of your recipes and Loved them! Having said that and having some reservations about trying this one, I gave in. Sadly “mushing” up pine nuts (pricey) with olives and basil and brocolli just didn’t cut it. My poor hubby who usually raves about your recipes had trouble eating it….as he said, “it’s tasty”, translation passable. I think the basil pesto on its own and then adding chopped olives and broccolli to the pasta would have worked instead of pureeing it (they seemed to get lost in the mix taste wise). Hey this is just my thought on this…
Hi Irene, I’m sorry you didn’t love this recipe. I appreciate your feedback.
Was pleasantly surprised with this recipe and how yummy it is! Fully expected it to taste of puréed broccoli but the cheese and olives do a great job of covering it up and making a delicious sauce.
Best vegetarian pasta I’ve had hands down. First time making homemade pesto sauce. And I recommend. I made a summer time lunch for me and my boyfriend, it was great I paired it with some eggplant parmigiana.
Thank you for your review, Kacie! I’m excited you both enjoyed it.
Excellent recipe, Kate! Thank you so much for it! My husband loves peas so I added them and it was amazing :)
Great to hear, Beth! Thank you for your review.
This looks delicious! Planning to try it out for dinner next week–any suggestions for sides?
It would go well with a roasted vegetable or even another side salad. I hope you love it!