Rachel Cooks

Whole Wheat Pasta and White Beans with Broccoli Pesto

Remember how I said I was going to try to make some vegetarian meals while still feeding hubs meat? Well, when I saw this recipe, I knew it would be perfect for that.

Beans forย proteinย (this lady needs protein or it isn’t pretty), lots of vegetables, and I could easily toss in some chicken breasts for hubby. Perfecto.

And it is oh so bright green and pretty!

Go Green!

Sorry, I like to drive my dad and father-in-law nuts by cheering for Michigan State. I did go there for two years. I’ll be raising my daughter as a Spartan no matter how hard they try to dress her in blue and maize. Anyways, I digress. Back to the pasta.

I realize it sort of looks like slime. My husband walked in the room and bent down and smelled it. I’m sure he was thinking, “Oh boy what is this woman serving me tonight?” However, I assure you that it tastes delicious! It is full of great flavors including broccoli (obviously), lemon, garlic, and flavorful olive oil. I kicked up the health-factor a bit by using whole-wheat pasta.


ย Also, can we stop and talk about pine nuts for a minute. I know I’ve professed my love for them previously, but oh my oh my oh my. Love the things. I could eat them by the handful. And if you missed it the first time, I toast the little guys in the microwave. Actually, I toast all my nuts in the microwave. Forty-five second intervals on high power until toasted and fragrant. Easy peasy.

Whole Wheat Pasta and White Beans with Broccoli Pesto
adapted from Everyday Food magazine

1 bunch of broccoli, stems and florets, cut into pieces (~4 cups)
12 ounces whole wheat rotini
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup packed fresh parsley
half of a small garlic clove, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste
one 15.5 ounce can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1. Bring a large pot of water up to a boil over high heat. Salt the water, add broccoli and cook until tender (about 4 minutes). Using a slotted spoon, remove broccoli from water and put into a food processor.
2. Add pasta to the same boiling water that you took the broccoli out of. Cook according to package. Reserve 2 cups of the cooking water when the pasta is done cooking. Drain pasta and return to pan.
3. While pasta is cooking, add Parmesan, lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley and garlic to the broccoli in the food processor. Pulse until mixture begins to combine. With processor on, drizzle in olive oil and continue to blend until smooth. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
4. Add pesto and beans to the pot with the pasta, stirring until combined. Add pasta water as needed to thin out the sauce to your desired consistency. Cook over medium until heated through and served, sprinkled with toasted pine nuts and more Parmesan if desired.

Verdict: Delicious! Very flavorful and filling.
Husband’s take: He liked it a lot but made it very clear that he wouldn’t eat it without chicken. As if I didn’t already know this!
Changes I would make: None.
Difficulty: Easy.

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41 Responses to “Whole Wheat Pasta and White Beans with Broccoli Pesto”

  1. Kathryn — January 20, 2012 at 6:01 am

    This looks absolutely delicious! I love the combination of beans and pasta and this sounds so flavourful.

  2. Lisa — January 20, 2012 at 7:21 am

    Omg, I made something similar to this last week but I’m posting it next week. Yum love cannellini beans, broccoli and pasta. Broccoli and bean both are great sources of calcium & fiber too just to name a few!

  3. Julia — January 20, 2012 at 7:38 am

    Haha, my husband gives me the same looks when I make some of the thigns I do. Tehy think we’re crazy, it’s fatastic! Have you had the caramelized/candied pinenuts that The melting Pot puts on top of their caesar salad? You’d DIE, soooo good, especially since you love pinenuts already.

    • Rachel — January 20th, 2012 @ 8:02 am

      I have never been to The Melting Pot but it sounds like I have to go just for those pinenuts! Wow!

  4. Lesa @Edesia's Notebook — January 20, 2012 at 7:40 am

    What a beautiful dish! It looks like a little bit of spring in the middle of January!

  5. Katherine Martinelli — January 20, 2012 at 7:46 am

    Love this! And I love how vibrant and green it is! ๐Ÿ™‚ Question – maybe I’m missing it but what do you do with the broccoli after it’s been steamed? Is it put in the food processor with the parm etc to make the pesto? Congrats on being visited by the fairy hob mother! I’ve had that visit too and it’s great!

    • Rachel — January 20th, 2012 @ 8:00 am

      Yep! It’s there in step one. I revised step three a bit–hopefully that makes it a little less confusing.

  6. Mackenzie — January 20, 2012 at 7:52 am

    Oooooo!! First of all – I’m in love with the pictures you took, they are amazing! Second of all, this sounds awesome! I’m impressed!!

  7. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — January 20, 2012 at 7:53 am

    Mmm this sounds delightful!

  8. Deb Kerns — January 20, 2012 at 7:57 am

    I love meatless! My husband, who is diabetic, would be better off having this as a side to compliment a protein. What protein would you serve with (as opposed to in) this dish that would compliment the flavor profile?

    • Rachel — January 20th, 2012 @ 8:07 am

      It would be great with chicken on the side or even stirred right in–the sauce would be terrific on chicken and there was plenty of it. I’m not a huge fan of fish, but I imagine it would also go well with fish because of the fresh flavors of lemon and parsley.

  9. SnoWhite @ Finding Joy in My Kitchen — January 20, 2012 at 8:16 am

    I am very excited for this recipe — most pestos I can’t have due to nuts, but this one… wow! Can’t wait to try it.

  10. the wicked noodle — January 20, 2012 at 8:16 am

    I love whole wheat pasta! My younger daughter loves broccoli but the other one won’t touch it – I think your pesto might be a nice solution.

  11. Jamie @ thrifty veggie mama — January 20, 2012 at 8:46 am

    I love pine nuts too. When I was in GR in Dec we went out for breakfast and they put pine nuts in an omelet. So good!

  12. Jenny M — January 20, 2012 at 9:06 am

    That looks so good – and so pretty. My daughter and I would love it as is. Husband and son would def need additional protein. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray — January 20, 2012 at 9:22 am

    This looks SO yummy. I love the idea of using broccoli for pesto, and adding beans for some protein is a great veggie/meat-lover compromise. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    (And I might add, I’d definitely use a fairy-given gift card for some fun kitchen “splurges”–quinoa is among them! (Normally not in my budget haha.)

  14. Erin — January 20, 2012 at 9:22 am

    I’ve never seen broccoli pesto before. What a bright green color! Looks yummy…and healthy!

  15. Bev Weidner — January 20, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Liiiick, lick lick lick.

  16. Shari — January 20, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Perfect for our family. I’d have to substitute quinoa pasta because I can fool my family with that. They notice whole wheat pasta and don’t like to eat it ๐Ÿ™

  17. Melissa — January 20, 2012 at 10:35 am

    I am going to have to try this one–my husband won’t even need the chicken added but my son will but my son actually likes pesto even if it is green (green being his fav color but not to eat). Wish list: unending but….sewing machine or bigger food processor (got a mini one and love it, may need a bigger one)

  18. Dana Jenkins — January 20, 2012 at 10:42 am

    This looks so good, I will have to try it.

    I would wish for a large spice rack.

    Have a great day and thanks for the recipes!

  19. CulinarilyCourtney — January 20, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    This is such a creative recipe! I used to be vegetarian for about 2 years, and even though I’m not any more, I still love finding great vegetarian recipes because they are usually cheap but tasty to make. Yum!

  20. amanda @ fake ginger — January 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Oooh, I love how bright this is! My husband & kids would never eat it but it’d be a perfect lunch for me!

  21. Dana — January 20, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I love pesto, and happen to have a head of broccoli in my fridge right now! Looks like I’ll be having this in the near future!

  22. Deanna — January 20, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    I love pine nuts. I put them in everything. I just made Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies which were uh-mazing. And I will put them in this pasta. Because I don’t need an excuse to eat pine nuts.

  23. Leslie Means @ Her View From Home — January 20, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    I love pine nuts! YUM!! I have a fantastic summer salad that includes pine nuts. Oh man..now I wish it was summer. ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Aggie — January 20, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    I love this, looks so delicious! I have never made pesto out of broccoli, what a great idea! I bet if I served this to the kiddos on St Patty’s day they’d eat it ๐Ÿ˜‰

  25. Nancy — January 20, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    It’s so green! Not sure if I could eat it with that color ๐Ÿ™‚ You were visited and gifted with a gift card from Amazon? Lucky girl- spend it on something fun for yourself instead of diapers. I’m really looking forward to seeing you tomorrow-N

  26. Sheila — January 20, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Looks delicious and so healthy!

  27. Deborah — January 21, 2012 at 10:46 am

    I am loving that green color!!

  28. Susan in the Boonies — January 21, 2012 at 10:48 am

    I know, I SHOULD do whole wheat pasta. It’s one healthy switch that has been very hard (nay, nigh unto impossible) for me to make. With mushrooms and an olive oil or buttery sauce, I could do it. MAYBE with this recipe. But I feel cheated with most other recipes.

  29. Geni — January 23, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    I love this healthy version of a pesto. It does look fantastic with the bright and creamy green. I can easily go without meat, but I DO love the fact that this has bean for protein. Way to go with sticking to your new plan! ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. katie — January 24, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Man… we are so much a like its scary! I just blogged about this recipe today, but I used cavatappi pasta! Your pesto came out much smoother than mine and just like your husband mine agreed that he would eat it again only if chicken was served with it…

    now on to the Amazon gift card part… I live on Amazon so I could easily buy some camera supplies, or a new Le Creuset pan, or some drawer tracks for the dressers we are restoring, or books, music, etc… you get the idea. I’m Amazon obsessed! lol.

  31. Sarah S — January 24, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    I made this a few weeks ago, and I found it to be really bland. I had to add a lot of extra lemon and salt, but after that I liked the flavor of it a lot.

  32. Lauren s — January 30, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Looks, and sounds delish. Definitely going to start making different pesto. Hmm, an amazon gc? Definitely definitely some mommy stuff. Not baby stuff, or 3 year old stuff, or hubby stuff, but some me stuff:-)

  33. Gary — February 10, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Sorry, I can’t eat this. McDonald’s “pink slime” meat is bad, so this “green slime” vegetables must be bad, too.

    • Rachel — February 10th, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

      Haha! Perhaps you’re right ๐Ÿ˜‰

  34. Sandra — July 21, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    I picked up some broccoli today and thought that it’d be perfect in the broccoli pesto recipe that I saw recently in a magazine. Unfortunately, I have NO idea which magazine it was, or if I even own the magazine. I might have been in the doctor’s office or something. I’m quite pleased to find this recipe after googling, it looks perfect! My husband has issues with meatless meals, therefore, I’ll have him grill up some BLSL chicken breast for quick meals this week…

    • Rachel — July 22nd, 2012 @ 7:56 am

      Great! Hope you enjoyed it!


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