Jeff Benda
No Meat Meals

St. Basil the Great Pesto & Broccoli Pasta

Serves 6

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Quick, easy, and satisfying, this bright green and aromatic pesto dish comes together in just 20 minutes. A little uplifting mouthful of summer can make all the difference for me during the doldrums of a challenging week. 

“Young men, you and I set little store by earthly existence. Things that merely improve this life have no true value for us; they are not what we call “the real thing.” Good family, athletic valor, a handsome face, tall stature, men’s esteem, dominion over others – none of these are important in our eyes or a petition fit for prayer; it is not our way to pay court to those who can boast them. Our ideals soar far above all that.” – St. Basil the Great

For the Basil Pesto

  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

For the Broccoli

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 cups broccoli floret pieces

For the Pasta

  • 1 pound uncooked pasta, such as rigatoni or penne
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt


  1. Cook the walnuts in a dry skillet or sauté pan over medium heat and shake them so they toast evenly, about 3 minutes. 
  2. Add the toasted walnuts to a blender or food processor, along with the basil, garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Pulse for about 20 seconds until finely chopped.
  3. With the food processor or blender running on puree mode, slowly pour in the olive oil. Stop the food processor or blender and scrape down the sides with a spatula as needed, and pulse again until the pesto is a smooth and thick consistency. 
  4. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and stir in the Parmesan cheese.
  5. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and add the 2 teaspoons of salt. Add the pasta and cook, about 10 minutes, according to the package directions. Transfer the pasta to a colander to drain the water.
  6. While the pasta is boiling, cook the broccoli using the same skillet or sauté pan you cooked the walnuts in. Start by heating 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high. Add the garlic and broccoli and sauté for 4 minutes, stirring often.
  7. Transfer the cooked broccoli and cooked pasta into the large bowl with the pesto. Toss well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 
  8. Serve warm in individual bowls and garnish with fresh basil leaves and grated Parmesan cheese. You can also add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, a light drizzle of olive oil, and a spoonful of ricotta. Leftover pesto pasta will keep well in the fridge, covered, for up to 4 days.