Broccoli Pesto Pasta Salad recipe is a must-have for summer picnic, barbecue, or even a potluck! Toss the warm noodles with homemade broccoli pesto sauce – fresh basil, baby spinach, and nutty cashew parmesan cheese – for a delicious gluten-free and vegan meal that is bursting with summer flavors.

Easy, nutritious, and flavorful. This pesto pasta salad recipe is made with broccoli and comes together in about 30 minutes. Serve it as a side with grilled chicken or pair it with grilled peach for all of your summer parties and potlucks!

This is a Broccoli pesto pasta salad recipe that’s gluten-free and vegan from I Heart Umami.

When it’s the season for summer barbecues, a quick and easy pesto pasta salad recipe is perfect for the season. I added broccoli and spinach for extra nutrition and color. It’s fresh, flavorful, and the whole thing can be put together in under 30 minutes!

The gluten-free pasta noodles are chewy and the broccoli pesto sauce is light and refreshing. This is a twist on classic basil pesto sauce that’s easy to prepare and full of flavor!

Ingredients for pesto pasta salad with broccoli

How to make broccoli pesto

Broccoli adds not only extra vitamins and nutrition to the pesto sauce but also makes it more creamy, thanks to a simple trick I learned from Milk Street. (More on that in the details below).

Broccoli (both florets and stem)
Fresh basil
Baby spinach
Garlic
Pine nuts or walnuts (drained chickpea or sunflower seeds for nut-free)
Nutritional yeast
Olive oil
Lemon
Salt and pepper

The baby spinach adds extra emerald green to the sauce so don’t skip it! Simply blend everything in a blender until creamy smooth.

Steps on how to make broccoli pesto sauce

Can you make the pesto sauce ahead of time?

Yes you can make the broccoli pesto sauce ahead of time and toss it with the pasta before serving. You can make it up to 1 day ahead. Let cool and drizzle with a thin layer of olive oil and seal it with an airtight container (I use a mason jar) to avoid color discoloration.

This broccoli pesto pasta salad recipe tastes best at room temperature, especially tossed with hot pasta noodles. To bring the pesto sauce back to room temperature, simply place the jar at the kitchen counter with the lid slightly open. Toss with the warm noodles when you are ready to eat.

How to make broccoli pesto pasta salad

I love that this pasta salad can be made in a moment of notice and it’s full of veggies.

  1. Make Pesto
    Boil the broccoli stem and florets separately. The stem takes longer to cook than the florets. It also makes the sauce extra creamy so don’t throw it away.
  2. Boil pasta
    I’ve made this dish with gluten-free rotini (spiral pasta) and rigatoni. Spiral pasta grabs the sauce slightly better than rigatoni. Personally, I love them both.
  3. Mix
    Toss the hot noodles with the pesto sauce and serve right away!

One extra tip! Save the pasta water! The starch water from the noodles makes it perfect to thin the sauce so don’t dump it right away.

To make it even lower in carb, lightly saute spiralized zucchini noodles then toss it with the sauce!

Finishing photo presentation for broccoli pesto pasta

How to store extra broccoli pesto pasta salad

This pasta salad will last in the fridge 3-4 days. Personally I love my noodles warm or at room temperature. To warm up the noodles without reheating, place them in a heat-proof bowl next to your stovetop. As you use the burner to make other dishes, it will warm through the pasta without heating it.

Can you freeze broccoli pesto

You can freeze broccoli pesto. Add it to an ice cube tray and cover it with a thin layer of olive oil. Once they are solid, pop them into a sealed freezer bag. It’ll keep in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.

Make it a full meal

To add extra protein to the broccoli pasta salad, try baked salmon, roasted spatchcock chicken, bang bang shrimp, steam cod, or grilled beef salad. To keep the meal vegetarian, try my almond tofu (a chilled appetizer) or my egg custard made crispy sesame tofu.

More healthy broccoli and side dishes

This broccoli pesto pasta salad recipe packs with loads of fresh veggies. It’s full of tons of great flavors and textures, yet is easy to be whipped up at a moment’s notice. The flavor is fresh, bright, and nutty delicious and with extra serving of broccoli and spinach. Bring it for lunch, dinner, and summer potlucks, it’s a crowd pleaser every time!

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This is a Broccoli pesto pasta salad recipe that’s gluten-free and vegan from I Heart Umami.
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Broccoli Pesto Pasta Salad (Healthy, Gluten-free)

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Servings: 6 people
Author: ChihYu
Broccoli Pesto Pasta Salad recipe is easy to make and bust with summer flavors. This healthy pesto pasta recipe is gluten-free and vegan friendly!
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Ingredients

Broccoli basil pesto sauce:

  • 1 lb. Broccoli
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 0.2 oz. garlic cloves, about 2 small cloves
  • ¼ cup pine nuts or walnuts, see notes for nut-free
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Half one whole lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice, or more to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water (about 4 quarts) with 1.5 tbsp coarse sea salt to boil.

Blanch the broccoli:

  • Dice off the bottom end of the broccoli stem, about 1.5 inches. Make another cut to separate the florets from the stem. Use the tip of the knife to trim the bottom end of the stem. Slice off and discard rough and thick outer skin. Dice it to 2-inch sections then halve it.
  • Add the stems to the boiling water and cook until fully tender, about 10 minutes. They will be quite soft. Set them aside to drain. The stems will help produce a silky sauce.
  • Blanch the broccoli florets for 2 minutes. Keep them crisp and tender. Fish the florets out with a slotted spoon and quickly rinse them in cold water then set aside to drain.

Boil the pasta:

  • Bring the same pot of water to boil again. Cook the pasta, according to the package instructions. I prefer my noodles al dente. Reserve ½ cup pasta water to thin the pesto sauce.

Make the pesto sauce:

  • In a high speed blender or food processor, add the broccoli florets and stems with the rest of pesto sauce ingredients from basil to lemon juice. Blend until creamy smooth and bright green. Thin the sauce with the reserved pasta water, 2 tbsp a time until desired consistency. (I use 3 tbsp pasta water). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Toss the hot pasta with the sauce until they are incorporated well. Season with more salt or pepper, if desired. Sprinkle with paleo parmesan cashew nut cheese, if using. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

Swap pine nuts for drained chickpea or sunflower seeds for a nut-free version.
To make it low carb or Whole30, lightly saute spiralized zucchini noodles and toss them with the pesto sauce.
How to store extra broccoli pesto pasta salad
This pasta salad will last in the fridge 3-4 days. Personally I love my noodles warm or at room temperature. To warm up the noodles without reheating, place them in a heat-proof bowl next to your stovetop. As you use the burner to make other dishes, it will warm through the pasta without heating it.
Can you freeze broccoli pesto
You can freeze broccoli pesto. Add it to an ice cube tray and cover it with a thin layer of olive oil. Once they are solid, pop them into a sealed freezer bag. It’ll keep in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 310kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 61mg | Potassium: 387mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1151IU | Vitamin C: 72mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: broccoli pesto, broccoli pesto pasta, broccoli pesto pasta salad, pesto pasta, pesto pasta recipe, pesto pasta salad
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