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 for protein (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.


 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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  1. Pingback: 25 Naturally Green Foods for St. Patrick's Day - Rachel Cooks

  2. Pingback: St. Patrick's Day Recipes - Rachel Cooks

  3. 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…

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

  5. 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:-)

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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! :)

  9. 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.

  10. I am loving that green color!!

  11. Looks delicious and so healthy!

  12. It’s so green! Not sure if I could eat it with that color :) 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

  13. 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 ;)

  14. I love pine nuts! YUM!! I have a fantastic summer salad that includes pine nuts. Oh man..now I wish it was summer. :)

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

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

  18. 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!

  19. 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!

  20. 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)

  21. 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 :(

  22. Liiiick, lick lick lick.

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

  24. 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. ;)

    (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.)

  25. That looks so good – and so pretty. My daughter and I would love it as is. Husband and son would def need additional protein. :)

  26. 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!

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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?

    • 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.

  30. 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!!

  31. Love this! And I love how vibrant and green it is! :-) 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!

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

  33. 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.

  34. 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!

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

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