Confession time: I hate pesto. Traditional basil pesto is just too much of everything for me; too herby, too oily, too heavy. Any time I saw a recipe calling for pesto, I immediately wrote it off. That is, until I read a recipe for spinach pesto. Hold the phone! You can make pesto from ingredients BESIDE basil?! This got my gears turning. I wondered if I could make pesto out of vegetables that aren’t of the leafy persuasion.
It turns out, you totally can! Not only is my Broccoli Hemp Pesto completely healthy and delicious, it doesn’t contain ANY dairy or oil! The sauce is light and savory while still being plenty filling when served with the pasta of your choice. I can also see eating this pesto with some grilled bread and fresh tomatoes in the summer time as an appetizer or as a spread inside of a veggie wrap for lunch! This is a dish that you can eat with reckless abandon and not feel the least bit guilty! Rejoice!
When I made this pesto I was in a rush. It was one of those days when all of my plans had fallen apart and dinner was the last thing on my mind. I had about 20 minutes to get dinner on the table before my kids turned into hangry little monsters. I didn’t take any pictures of the ingredients or prep because I really wasn’t expecting much from so few ingredients. But after the first couple of bites, I knew I was onto something and had to snap a couple of photos so I could share.
Let’s look at the nutritional components of 2 of the main ingredients.
Hemp Hearts: Hemp hearts contain about 11 grams of protein per serving (3 tablespoons) and their protein is more easily digested and assimilated by the body than protein found in animal products. Best known for their essential fatty acid content, hemp hearts contain omega 3, 6, and gamma-linoleic acid in perfect balance. They are the richest known source of polyunsaturated fats. They are also rich in vitamin e, which has amazing benefits for the skin.
Broccoli: Part of the family of cruciferous vegetables, broccoli is well-known for it’s anti-inflammatory and cancer preventative properties. A powerhouse of vitamins k and c, broccoli is great for supporting and boosting the immune system. It is also full of fiber, which keeps your digestive system functioning properly.
This pasta dish was really simple and yummy. It was even great served cold the next day with some halved cherry tomatoes mixed in! Since I am lacking in pictures of the set up, let’s jump right into the recipe.
Broccoli Hemp Pesto Pasta
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 small (or 1 large) heads of broccoli, cut into florets
- 3 TBS Hemp Hearts
- ½ lemon, juiced
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp fresh cracked black pepper
- pinch of cayenne (optional)
- ¼- 1/2 cup pasta water, reserved
- 1 12oz box short cut pasta of your choice
- Nutritional Yeast (optional for serving)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the broccoli florets in the water for 3-4 minutes or until the stems are easily pierced with a fork.
- Drain the broccoli with a spider strainer or slotted spoon and place in the food processor bowl.
- Add the pasta into the broccoli water and cook according to the package directions.
- While the pasta is boiling, sauté the onions for about 5 minutes in a small pan over medium heat using a splash of water to keep them from sticking.
- Add the minced garlic to the pan and sauté for 2 more minutes.
- Take the garlic and onion mixture off the heat and add to the food processor bowl with the broccoli. Add the hemp hearts, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and ½ of the reserved pasta water.
- Process the ingredients until a semi-smooth consistency is reached. Add the rest of the pasta water if necessary to reach your desired texture. Check the seasoning level of the pesto and adjust as needed.
- Drain the pasta and toss with the pesto
- Sprinkle each serving with nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor and hit of B vitamins, if desired. Serves 4.
What are your thoughts? Do you love traditional pesto or prefer it’s many variations? Share your comments below!
Full disclosure: This blog post contains some affiliate links. Meaning, basically, if you make a purchase from any of these links, I may make a little money. So thank you in advance for supporting my family 🙂