As a vegan chef, I’ve always been drawn to fresh and flavorful ingredients that make my dishes pop. One of my all-time favorite ingredients is pesto sauce – it adds a burst of flavor to any dish, and can easily be made vegan-friendly by omitting the traditional parmesan cheese.
Today, I’m sharing one of my go-to recipes: creamy vegan pesto pasta with broccoli florets. Not only is this dish simple to make, it also packs a flavor punch that will leave your taste buds singing. The combination of creamy vegan pesto with nutritious broccoli florets is a match made in foodie heaven!
This dish is perfect for busy weeknights, but it also makes a great option for special occasions or gatherings with friends and family. Even meat lovers won’t be able to resist the creamy and comforting flavors of this hearty pasta.
So what are you waiting for? Let’s get cooking!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Vegan or not, everyone loves a good pasta dish. But have you ever tried a creamy vegan pesto pasta with broccoli? Trust me when I say that this recipe is a game changer.
First of all, let’s talk about the sauce. Pesto sauce is a classic Italian staple known for its bold flavor and fresh ingredients, but what makes this recipe even better is that it’s vegan! Made with raw cashews, nutritional yeast, and fresh basil leaves, this vegan pesto is just as creamy and delicious as traditional pesto (if not better!). It’s perfect for those who are lactose intolerant or simply trying to incorporate more plant-based meals into their diet.
Now let’s add in the broccoli. Not only does it add a burst of green to your plate, but broccoli is also packed with nutrients like fiber, vitamin C, and iron. Plus, it’s an incredibly versatile vegetable and pairs perfectly with the creamy vegan pesto sauce.
But why stop there? This recipe also calls for frozen chopped spinach, firm tofu, and garlic cloves to add even more depth and texture to the dish.
And finally, let’s talk about the pasta itself. Pesto pasta has been around for ages but have you ever tried broccoli pesto pasta? The combination of the nutty and savory flavors from the broccoli pesto combined with tender pasta creates a unique texture in your mouth that will change how you view pasta dishes.
In conclusion, what makes this recipe so special is that it’s not only delicious but it’s also healthy, packed with nutrients, and vegan-friendly! So why not give it a try yourself and taste the difference? You won’t regret it.
For the Broccoli Pesto:
- 1 head of broccoli, cut into florets (about 4 cups)
- 1/3 cup of raw cashews
- 1/2 cup of nutritional yeast
- 2 cups of tightly packed fresh basil leaves
- 1 garlic clove
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 cup of pine nuts
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
For the Pasta:
- 350 g pesto pasta
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 5 cups of broccoli florets
- 3 cups of frozen chopped spinach
- Salt to taste
- Olive oil for frying
- Water to cook the pasta and broccoli
Note: You can use any type of pasta that you like for this recipe. If you don’t have pesto pasta, you can use regular pasta and add pesto sauce.
The Recipe How-To
Now that we have all our ingredients ready, let’s get started with the recipe. Here’s a step-by-step guide to making the creamy vegan pesto pasta with broccoli:
Step 1: Cook the Pasta and Broccoli
First, bring a large pot of water with salt to boil over high heat. Once boiling, add in 350g of pesto pasta and cook until al dente. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, add 4 cups of broccoli florets and cook until tender yet firm.
Step 2: Make the Creamy Pesto Sauce
While waiting for the pasta and broccoli to cook, let’s make our sauce. In a blender, combine 1 cup of raw cashews, ⅓ cup of nutritional yeast, 1 garlic clove, ½ cup of firm tofu, 2 cups of tightly packed fresh basil leaves, ¼ cup of pine nuts and blend them until you get a smooth paste. While blending, gradually add in plant-based milk (3/4 cup) and water (1/2 cup). Blend again until you get a creamy pesto consistency.
Step 3: Sauté the Garlic and Onion
In a pan over medium heat, add in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Then sauté one chopped onion for about five minutes or until they’re soft and fragrant. Add three minced garlic cloves and stir for another minute until fragrant.
Step 4: Add Spinach and Broccoli Pest
Next, add in one large head of frozen chopped spinach into the pan. Sauté for another two minutes. Then add in one cup of broccoli pesto into the same pan. Mix everything together until it’s combined.
Step 5: Combine Everything Together
Once the pasta is cooked, reserve a cup of pasta water then drain it off. Next, mix your pasta sauce with your cooked pasta and broccoli mixture. Add more pasta water if it seems too dry or thick.
Step 6: Serve Your Delicious Creamy Vegan Pesto Pasta with Broccoli
Ladle your creamy vegan pesto pasta with broccoli onto plates or bowls — here it is recommended to garnish with chopped walnuts before serving if you like extra texture to your dish.
Enjoy this amazing vegan pesto pasta anytime you want something that combines creamy textures with fresh summery flavors!
Substitutions and Variations
Here are some substitutions and variations you can try to make this dish unique!
– Swap the broccoli for other vegetables. Some good choices include zucchini, bell peppers, asparagus or mushrooms. This is a great way to use up any leftover vegetables you have in the fridge.
– Use a different pasta shape. Instead of using pesto pasta, try spaghetti, penne or even gluten-free pasta if that’s what you prefer.
– Make it gluten-free. Simply replace the regular pasta with a gluten-free alternative or choose a vegetable-based pasta such as spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles.
– Experiment with the pesto sauce. You can add different herbs such as kale, arugula or parsley to your pesto sauce for a unique touch. You can also substitute walnuts or almonds for pine nuts and use nutritional yeast in place of parmesan cheese for a vegan option.
– Add more protein. If you want to make this dish more substantial, add some vegan sausage links or chickpeas to your dish. They will add flavor and texture while making it more filling.
– Make it creamy. For a creamier sauce, use plant-based milk such as coconut milk or almond milk instead of water when blending the sauce ingredients together.
– Turn it into a salad. Simply toss in some spinach leaves, cherry tomatoes and diced avocados once the pasta has cooled down for a refreshing summer salad.
Whatever substitutions and variations you choose, make sure to adjust cooking time and seasonings accordingly to ensure the best results possible!
Serving and Pairing
This creamy vegan pesto pasta with broccoli is a dish that will leave you feeling satisfied longer after your meal. It’s perfect for all occasions, so whether you’re cooking dinner for your family or having a dinner party with friends, this dish is versatile enough to please everyone.
To serve, I recommend adding some fresh chopped tomatoes, a sprinkle of nutritional yeast, and some fresh basil leaves for an extra pop of flavor. You can also garnish the top of the pasta with some roasted pine nuts for added texture.
For pairing, I suggest serving this dish with a crisp green salad or some roasted vegetables, such as zucchini or eggplant. A light white wine like Sauvignon Blanc pairs perfectly with the bright flavors in the pesto sauce. If you’re looking for something non-alcoholic, try adding lemon wedges to your pasta or sipping on a refreshing glass of sparkling water.
Additionally, if you want to add more protein to your meal, you can top the pasta with some vegan sausage links or diced tofu. For a heartier meal, try adding some steamed kale or spinach to the dish to bulk up the greens component.
Overall, this dish is an incredibly flavorful and satisfying option for plant-based eaters and meat-eaters alike. Its versatility makes it an easy go-to recipe that can be adapted to your taste preferences and pair well with many different side dishes and drinks.
Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating
This creamy vegan pesto pasta with broccoli recipe is perfect for meal prep as you can easily store it in the refrigerator or freezer for later consumption. You can make the pesto sauce in advance and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. The pasta, broccoli, and tofu mixture can also be made in advance and stored separately.
To store the dish, place it in an airtight container and keep it refrigerated for up to 4 days. For longer storage, you can place the dish in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, thaw frozen pasta overnight in the refrigerator and microwave or heat on the stove until heated through.
When reheating, we recommend adding a little bit of water or plant-based milk to loosen up any stiff pesto if necessary. Be careful not to overcook or the broccoli will lose its crunchiness.
With its convenience and easy storage options, this creamy vegan pesto pasta with broccoli recipe is perfect for busy weekdays and effortless entertaining. Plus, knowing that you have something wholesome on standby allays stressful meal planning!
Tips for Perfect Results
To achieve the best vegan broccoli pesto pasta, I’ve outlined a few tips to ensure perfect results every time. Let’s dive in!
1. Don’t overcook the pasta: When cooking pasta for this recipe, be sure not to overcook it. Cook until al dente, following the instructions on the package. Over-cooking the pasta will lead to mushy noodles and result in an unappetizing dish.
2. Use quality ingredients: For the best vegan pesto, use fresh ingredients and high-quality olive oil. Invest in pine nuts from trusted and organic sources, and make sure your basil leaves are tightly packed and unblemished.
3. Add water as needed: If you find that your pesto sauce is too thick, add some water to thin it out. However, make sure to do this gradually and only as needed, as adding too much water can dilute the flavors.
4. Roast your broccoli: For added depth of flavor and texture, roast your broccoli before adding it to the pasta. To do this, toss the broccoli florets with some olive oil and salt, then roast them in the oven at 400°F for 20-25 minutes until tender and caramelized.
5. Adjust seasoning to taste: While this recipe calls for a certain amount of salt and garlic, feel free to adjust these seasonings according to your personal taste preferences.
By following these tips, you’ll be able to create a vegan broccoli pesto pasta that is flavorful, satisfying, and easy to make.
As with any recipe, it’s natural to have some questions before giving it a try. In this section, I’ll address some common concerns and queries related to our Creamy Vegan Pesto Pasta with Broccoli recipe. From potential ingredient substitutions to storage and reheating tips, we’ve got your back! So, let’s dive into the FAQ section to clear up any uncertainties you may have.
What is the difference between pesto and vegan pesto?
In this recipe, we will be making a vegan alternative of the traditional Italian Basil Pesto which is famous for its use of Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese. Since we won’t be using any of those, we’ll be replacing them with almonds and nutritional yeast. The combination of these ingredients will produce a deliciously cheesy flavor and creamy texture that vegans are sure to enjoy.
What is creamy pesto made of?
Creamy pesto is a delicious variation of traditional basil pesto. To make it, heavy cream is added to the usual ingredients of nuts, fresh basil, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. The cream gives the sauce a creamy texture and subtle taste difference, while still maintaining the classic flavors of pesto. Both walnuts and pine nuts are suitable choices for the nuts component of the recipe.
Why does my pesto pasta taste dry?
When creating pesto pasta sauce, it is essential to include some of the reserved pasta water in the mixture. Without it, the resulting sauce can turn out to be dry and clumpy, which detracts from the overall taste and presentation of the dish. The use of starchy pasta water also enables the sauce to evenly and smoothly cover the pasta, resulting in a perfectly creamy texture.
Why is some pesto not vegan?
Although the classic recipe for basil pesto includes cheese that is produced with animal rennet, making it non-vegetarian, there are alternative cheese substitutes that can be used to create a vegetarian version of this delicious sauce. For example, tofu or nutritional yeast can be used as a replacement for traditional cheese in pesto.
In conclusion, if you’re seeking a tasty and healthy vegan recipe, creamy vegan pesto pasta with broccoli is the perfect option for you. It offers a deliciously creamy pesto sauce packed with the goodness of plant-based ingredients such as raw cashews, firm tofu, and nutritional yeast, paired with tender broccoli florets and perfectly cooked pasta. This dish is both nourishing and flavorful, making it an instant crowd-pleaser.
The unique combination of pesto sauce and broccoli works great together and adds a delightful twist to the traditional pasta dishes. Moreover, the recipe is incredibly versatile and allows for easy substitutions and variations to suit various dietary preferences.
With just a few simple yet carefully selected ingredients and some straightforward instructions, you can prepare this fantastic dish in no time. Whether you’re looking for a quick weekday meal or planning for a family gathering, this creamy vegan pesto pasta with broccoli recipe will not disappoint.
So, give it a try, experiment with different variations, put your own spin on it, and enjoy a deliciously filling meal that’s both satisfying for your taste buds and kind to your body!
Creamy Vegan Pesto Pasta With Broccoli Recipe
- 7 ounces firm tofu
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed (or fresh spinach tastes really nice and keeps more nutrients!)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 (500 g) package egg-free pasta (I usually use bow tie, but it would be great with penne also)
- 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 teaspoons vegetarian poultry seasoning (I use McKays Vegan Chicken Seasoning)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 3 tablespoons pesto sauce, liquid (can add more to taste)
- 1 medium head of broccoli, cooked
- In a blender or food processor, blend cashews and 1/2 cup water until smooth. Then add the tofu, 1 tablespoons olive oil (reserve 1 Tbsp), 3/4 cup water, vegetarian chicken seasoning, 1 1/2 Tbsp nutritional yeast, and salt, and blend until smooth and creamy. You may want to add a tad more water if it's too thick. Set aside.
- Boil pasta noodles and drain.
- In a large saucepan, saute the onion and garlic in the remaining 1 tablespoons olive oil until onions are clear. Add 1/3 cup water and the vegan chicken seasoning. If you are using fresh spinach, cook it with the onion, if using frozen spinach add it to the saucepan after the onion is clear.
- Once the onion, garlic, and spinach is cooked and the water has been evaporated, add the blended mixture (cashews, tofu, etc), cooked broccoli, and pesto sauce to the sauce pan. Cook together on low for 5 minutes.
- Serve mixed sauce on top of cooked pasta and enjoy!
Add Your Own Notes
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Jolo is a talented chef and food blogger with a passion for vegan and Caribbean flavors. From savory vegetarian dishes to tropical smoothies, Jolo’s Kitchen has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for meat-free meals or creative Caribbean recipes, Jolo’s Kitchen is the perfect place for you.