With bright green broccoli pesto, whole wheat pasta and white beans is a healthy vegetarian entree that will please everyone.

Round white bowl containing pasta with broccoli pesto, garnished with pine nuts.One of my goals for this year is to incorporate more meatless meals into my menus. Better for me, better for the planet. Is my husband enthusiastic about this goal? Not particularly, the guy likes meat. 

Well, when I saw this recipe (from Everyday Food magazine) I knew it would be perfect. Cannellini beans for protein, along with hearty whole wheat pasta, topped with good-for-you broccoli pesto. And, I can easily toss in cooked chicken into hubby’s portion. 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.

Sorry, I digress. Back to the pasta.

About this pasta with broccoli pesto

The broccoli is cooked briefly in the pasta water. Fish it out of the water and then put the pasta in. Tricky, huh? Only one pan dirty, and isn’t that great?

To make the pesto, the cooked broccoli is added to your food processor along with Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and zest, parsley (more green!), and garlic. Whirl that around while drizzling in olive oil. 

Overhead of food processor bowl containing broccoli pesto.

I realize it sort of looks like green 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! Flavored with broccoli (obviously), lemon, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil, this pesto is not boring.

By the way, have you tried my nut free Arugula Pesto Recipe? Or this fun orange carrot pesto? Think outside of the box and you can come up with lots of exciting variations from the normal basil pesto

Collage of four photos, each with a component of this pasta recipe.

I like to garnish this pasta dish with pine nuts even though there aren’t pine nuts in the pesto, as is the custom. If you prefer, this can be a totally nut free recipe. However…

I know I’ve professed my love for pine nuts before, 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.

Small white dish containing pine nuts.

More one pot pastas


Whole Wheat Pasta and White Beans with Broccoli Pesto

Whole Wheat Pasta and White Beans with Broccoli Pesto

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

With bright green broccoli pesto, whole wheat pasta and white beans is a healthy vegetarian entree that will please everyone.


  • 4 cups cut broccoli (about one head)
  • 1 pkg. (12 ounces) whole wheat rotini
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh parsley
  • half of a small garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 1 can (15.5 oz.) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • toasted pine nuts, to garnish, optional


  1. Bring a large pot of water 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 directions. 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 1/4 cup 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 desired consistency. Cook over medium heat until heated through.
  5. Serve sprinkled with reserved Parmesan and toasted pine nuts, if desired.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 451Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 419mgCarbohydrates: 67gFiber: 14gSugar: 8gProtein: 17g

RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

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Partial closeup of pasta in white bowl with fork inserted.