lemon broccoli pesto pasta served in dinner bowl. A side of pine nuts and fresh basil

Lemon Broccoli Pesto Pasta Recipe

  • Author: Suzy
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian


You’ll love this twist on pesto pasta with broccoli and a good splash of fresh lemon juice. Loads of flavor! And you’ll have extra pesto to freeze for later use!



  • Kosher salt
  • 12 ounces frozen broccoli (or 1 head broccoli, stems and florets)
  • 6 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 3 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons, plus more for serving
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 lb short pasta like Fusilli (use Whole Wheat pasta for Mediterranean diet option)


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously. Add the broccoli and cook until crisp tender (about 3 to 4 minutes). Use a slotted spoon to transfer the broccoli to a large bowl of ice water. Do not discard the cooking water (you will use it to cook the pasta later). Drain the broccoli and dry on a paper towel.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the broccoli, 4 tbsp of the pine nuts, 1 1/2 cups of Parmesan, the basil leaves, and lemon zest and juice. Process until combined (about 30 seconds or so). Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover and run the processor again. And while the processor is running, slowly stream in the extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Bring the same pot of water back to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions (about 10 minutes or so). Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water.
  4. Return the drained pasta to the pot over medium-low heat. Add 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese and the reserved 1/4 cup of pasta water and cook, stirring constantly, until the cheese coast the pasta (about 1 minute).
  5. Remove from the heat and add half of the broccoli pesto (I added a bit more than half). Toss to coat the pasta with the broccoli pesto. (Reserve extra broccoli pesto or freeze it for a later use).
  6. Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl. Top with the remaining Parmesan cheese, 2 tbsp pine nuts, and a little lemon zest. Garnish with a few basil leaves. Enjoy!


  • Cook’s Tip:¬† You will use only about 1/2 or a little more of the broccoli pesto. Transfer the rest to an air-tight freezer safe container or jar and freeze for later use.
  • Cook’s Tip: Use whole wheat pasta if you’re following a more strict Mediterranean diet. And if you need to lighten this recipe up some more, you can omit the 1 cup of Parmesan cheese used to coat the pasta in step #4.
  • Pine nut replacement: Pine nuts are your best bet for pesto, but they can be pricey and less available than other nuts. If you must replace pine nuts, try shelled walnuts (walnut hearts).
  • Recommended for this recipe: quality extra virgin olive oil like our Private Reserve or Early Harvest Greek extra virgin olive oil
  • Visit Our Shop for quality Mediterranean ingredients including all-natural and organic spices, olive oils and more.
  • Recipe is adapted from What’s Gaby Cooking: Eat What You Want.
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Pesto pasta, basil pesto pasta, broccoli pesto pasta, broccoli pasta