Roasted Broccoli Pesto

roasted broccoli pesto in a jar topped with fresh basil
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Crisp roasted broccoli is blended with fresh basil, garlic, salty parmesan cheese and plenty of golden extra virgin olive oil in this nutritiously delicious nut-free roasted broccoli pesto. 

No Funny Business—Just Delicious Roasted Broccoli (that Kids Will Actually Eat.) 

We're not necessarily in favor of "sneaking" vegetables into our kids' dinners (although we're not above it, either). Our perpetual goal is to present vegetables to our families in a way that makes them appealing, whatever that entails! And sometimes—when making this broccoli pesto, for example—that means blending the vegetable with herbs, garlic, Parmesan cheese and rivers of golden olive oil. Who wouldn’t want to eat that?

ingredients for broccoli pesto in small bowls

Broccoli Pesto is Five-Ingredient Perfection. 

We love the robust flavors of broccoli pesto—it’s the ideal pasta sauce for this liminal moment, when we linger between summer and the start of fall. Basil hints at fresh summer breezes, while roasted broccoli florets root it firmly in the harvest season. Here’s what you’ll need to make this broccoli pesto recipe: 

  • Garlic. Always and forever.  
  • Broccoli, roughly chopped.
  • Fresh basil. 
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Yes, you could use pre-grated, but freshly grated will always taste just a little better. 
  • Extra virgin olive oil. Pesto is the perfect example of the right moment to use extra virgin olive oil! All of those unctuous, peppery, buttery flavors will sing through the pesto and give it oomph.  
glass jar of roasted broccoli pesto topped with fresh basil

The Best Nut-Free Pesto Recipe Ever. 

While classic pesto relies on pine nuts for heft and a mildly bitter, toasty note, our broccoli pesto recipe gets all of those same flavors from roasted broccoli! Drizzled with olive oil and roasted until crisp and wilty-tender, broccoli becomes positively addictive. That tell-tale slightly bitter flavor that defines most cruciferous vegetables mellows out and gives way to roasty, deeply flavorful vibrancy. It serves as the backbone of this non-traditional—but no less delightful—pesto sauce recipe.

How To Make Broccoli Pesto

Some broccoli pesto recipes call for steamed broccoli, but we’re not messing around here! Since the broccoli needs to stand in for pine nuts in our nut free pesto recipe, we roast it to give loads of extra flavor. Ready, set, go!

  1. Roast the broccoli at 400°F for 30 minutes, or until it’s lovely and crispy, but before it’s burnt. (Note! If you’re making this broccoli pesto sauce to go with our Baked Chicken Meatballs, and opt to roast the broccoli while you bake the meatballs, you might need to adjust the heat a little. That will change the roasting time a bit, so just keep an eye on the broccoli—taste a floret occasionally, and pull it when it’s done.) 
  2. Purée the roasted broccoli, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, olive oil, basil and garlic in a food processor or blender (either countertop or immersion blender) until you achieve a consistency you’re happy with. Some people prefer their pesto a little chunkier—traditionally made into a paste using a mortar and pestle, pesto isn’t meant to be silky smooth. 
  3. Eat! We love to eat roasted broccoli pesto with bucatini pasta and chicken meatballs, but you can also use it anywhere you’d use regular pesto sauce! 
broccoli pesto on pasta with chicken meatballs

4 Ways To Use Your Broccoli Pesto

Now that you’ve got a big batch of broccoli pesto taking up space in your fridge, you might be wondering how to use it! All of these recipes call for traditional basil pesto, but our vitamin-rich, iron-packed healthy broccoli pesto works just as well (if not better!) : 

  1. Pesto Zoodle Salad
  2. Stuffed Chicken Breast with Spinach, Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
  3. Salmon Pasta with Homemade Pesto
  4. Pesto Chicken Bruschetta

Tools You’ll Need: 

Presto, Pesto!

We hope you’re as in love with this twist on classic pesto sauce as we are! We love that it’s nut-free, so even people who can’t have nuts can enjoy pesto, and we love that when our kids polish off a bowl of noodles with broccoli pesto, we know that they’ve just gotten a good dose of important vitamins and minerals in addition to all those carbs. Let us know how it turned out for you, and what you ate your roasted broccoli pesto with! Snap a photo, and maybe even a video of the beautiful people you feed it to. Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating! 

Roasted Broccoli Pesto

Serves 8

Ingredients

4 cloves garlic
1 large head of broccoli, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut and wash the broccoli into small florets and toss with salt and olive oil.
  3. Roast on a sheet pan until the edges begin to crisp and the inside of the broccoli is tender, about 30 minutes.
  4. In a food processor blend together broccoli along with remaining ingredients until blended well. If a thinner consistency is desired add more olive oil, one tablespoon at a time while blending.