Homemade Creamy Broccoli Pesto with Pasta

homemade creamy broccoli pesto

My better half wanted to make pesto – in particular, a creamy pesto with broccoli. I told her pesto needs to have pine nuts, Parmesan cheese and basil leaves for it to be properly called pesto but she showed me a recipe and talked me out of using the nuts. I won out on the cheese and basil though – we actually have a nice herb garden with basil leaves.

broccoli florets

…so that’s what we did over the weekend. I must say it’s quite a success, although this isn’t a traditional pesto with pine nuts but more like a creamy broccoli sauce.

This is actually from a recipe that we adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

steamed broccoli heads

There’s a head of broccoli that’s starting to turn yellow so we steamed that for about 10 minutes and cut the crown into florets. I chopped the stem almost down to the head. I *did not* use the stems at all, some recipes call for that, I only use the broccoli florets.

ingredients broccoli pesto

This is what we put into the food processor:

  • 1 small broccoli
  • 2 cloves raw garlic
  • 50 ml heavy thickened cream
  • 3 heaped tablespoons of Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I would say the most important thing in that creamy broccoli pesto sauce is the garlic. It’s no good without the garlic! I almost forgot to put it in.

adding fresh basil

Our herb garden is just starting to flower so we just picked a few fresh basil leaves to throw inside the food processor. I pulsed everything and processed it for about 30 seconds until all the ingredients were meshed well together.

cooking linguine

This is our first attempt in doing this so we just cooked some linguine and tossed it with our home-made creamy broccoli pesto.

The linguine was mixed with a huge chunk of butter. I reckon that since there’s olive oil in the pesto sauce, the pasta would taste better with butter. It did! We also had a simple poached egg with the pasta dish.

creamy broccoli pesto

It tasted really good! The heavy cream combined with the Greek yogurt makes a very nice base for the interesting textural experience of having millions of tiny broccoli florets rubbing against your tongue with every bite. The creamy pesto paste isn’t too heavy and rich either – we were surprised to find out it’s actually very light.

creamy broccoli pesto pasta

It’s not a traditional pesto but I’m keen to do one next time with our own basil leaves and some toasted pine nuts. As for this creamy broccoli pesto, it’s simple and delicious, a wonderful alternative to the heavier pasta sauces we’ve been using lately!

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26 thoughts on “Homemade Creamy Broccoli Pesto with Pasta

  1. HB, broccoli is really good for you and make great pesto. I use cream cheese at time due to always have some. I never use pinenuts too costly also and not needed in recipes. Sometime added dry basils to it. I cooked linguine with it. Linguine so low cost I use it in noodle dishes make noodle for it.

    • I’m of the opinion that pesto must have pine nuts! :)

      Unfortunately, we didn’t make this version with pine nuts coz my better half doesn’t like it but she compromised on the Parmesan cheese and a little bit of basil leaves (we don’t have enough but will make a traditional pesto soon with our own basil – all pesto must have basil).

      Yeah, pine nuts are expensive here too (more so than San Francisco) since we need to import it. Last I saw, it was around RM 36 (USD 10+) for a handful. Thanks for sharing Vickie!

      • HB, I sometime use unroasted peanuts and they work pretty good in recipes. I see it nuts is nuts to me. Try to make carrot pesto also. Pesto is healthy to eat more vegetables.

    • Sure thing buddy! :)

      I don’t have a food processor in Sibu though – I just bought that one a couple of weeks ago in fact. I got a really good deal too – RM 340 (I think) while a lower range model (500 vs 750 watt – mine can go for longer without heating up) is priced at the same range!

      I was lucky – there were only a couple of units and it was a stock clearance of some sort.

    • Thanks Reana! :)

      It’s her idea actually, to use up the broccoli I had in the fridge. I just searched for a recipe and we cooked it together (she did the pasta and poached egg, I did the creamy broccoli pesto).

    • Thanks mate! :)

      It’s not dry at all – it’s very creamy in fact. There’s 50 ml of *thickened cream*, 3 heaped tablespoons of Greek yogurt and olive oil to boot! Haha!

      It might have been the photo with the grated Parmesan – the end result after the food processor has done it’s job (second to last) is a very creamy broccoli pesto that’s perfect. That’s how pesto should look like, which was a nice surprise since it’s the first time we did it. I loved the consistency – mixes very well with the pasta.

  2. I usually make my pesto with spinach or rocket because basil is a little too strong for the kids. I replace the pinenuts with walnuts, the latter being easier to procure. For the cheese, I sometimes use cheddar instead of parmesan. I also roast my garlic first before adding it in. Gives it a nice mellow taste :)

      • Yeah, we’ve seen recipes with roasting the garlic first but we both like raw garlic! :)

        Awesome tip Mela!

        I didn’t know you can do that – tried it on Thursday and it works well! I didn’t Pulse it, just blitzed it on 2 like you said and it cleaned right up!

        Thanks for that, it’s a really useful tip! :D

        • I know right? I didn’t used to use my food processor so often because of the hassle of cleaning it. After my father taught me this cool trick, I am no longer afraid of cleaning out my food processor :D

    • Thanks for the tip Mela! :)

      I didn’t know you can make it with arugula! I tried making arugula puree once and it took a whole bunch of salad rocket to produce a tiny amount! Maybe I did it wrong, will try it again!

      I have strong aged cheddar at home but the better half doesn’t like that so much (it’s aged and strong tasting) so I put in Parmesan instead.

  3. The outcome looks nice wor…
    I sometimes feel like buying those ready made pesto sauce from supermarket. Feel like trying those …since Ima lazy person :-D

    • Thanks Mel! :)

      I’ve had the pesto you buy on the supermarket shelves – it’s not really that good coz it’s not fresh! I can actually taste the preservatives in them.

      I used to get those when I was studying in Melbourne too, coz it’s easy, but nothing beats fresh pesto! You can easily make pesto with a food processor…just need to get the ingredients and chuck ’em all in!

  4. This wonderful post brought me memories! I think I ate Pesto many times in US and they were made by Greek chefs who used Spinach, basil and unknown nuts. The Greeks love spinach for some reasons.
    Your recipe sounds easy to make them without the Pine Nuts. I didn’t even know pines have edible nuts!! LOL

    • Yeah, I’ve eaten a lot of pesto in Melbourne and it’s often of Greek origin too! :)

      My place (Clayton) has a huge Greek population. Their pesto is a bit different from Italian pesto, which doesn’t use spinach!

      Pine nuts are awesome but hard to find here – have only seen them in BIG and Jaya Grocer.

  5. Love this pesto sauce, dear even though it is not a classic type of pesto sauce. I love the creamy texture that blends well with the pasta. Luckily you remember the garlic!

    • It’s a very delicious pesto though dear! :)

      I love that you thought of the idea and then we made it for dinner! It was a great cooking project.

      Indeed, I don’t think it would have worked without the garlic! We’ll make a traditional pesto next time! <3

  6. Wow I envy ppl who can cook so well! God removed the cooking gene from my body when I was made. haha. But no worries, for that, he gave me Cumi! Hubby can cook. yay!

  7. Haha, I agree with you, HB! Pesto must always have pine nuts, basil leaves and olive oil – the three core ingredients.

    I’ll definitely try out your version of pesto with broccoli (and pine nuts :P) – my partner LOVES broccoli (as do I ;)) and I think he’ll appreciate the twist…if I manage to make it well!

    Thanks for sharing :)

    • Yup, and we’re going to make a traditional pesto next! :)

      Our basil herb garden has been growing nicely (and fast too) and we’ll have enough to make a batch soon.

      Thanks for the kind comments! I modified the recipe from another site (linked in the post) – it’s something we decided we want to do and it turned out well (don’t forget raw garlic if you like the stuff!)

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