broccoli + rocket pesto recipe {vegan}


broccoli + rocket pesto

Mere moments before we all start to bare arms and legs in the celebration of spring, I thought I'd quickly get one last winter vege-style dish into the mix, pimped up with a few lovely spring herbs and greens from the garden. 
I've been making broccoli pesto since way back in the day when I cooked at a busy little cafe in Hamilton, NZ. The original recipe is long gone, and from faint memory it may have been a Donna Hay classic if I'm not wrong? Over the years things have come and gone, the parmesan's been replaced with a good dollop or two of white miso paste and when I have rocket (arugula) growing in the garden, that gets thrown in too.

rocket (arugula)

In all honesty our current vege garden is not really in good shape. The sad thing about renting is you never know how long you will be around and even though we'd love to stay in this house a few more years until ready to move back to NZ, the reality is... it's not up to us. We learnt the hard way with our first house in Perth that things change, and no matter how ideal you are as a tenant, things come up and in the blink of an eye the owner may well decide they want to move back into the house, leaving you out on the street.

We put in so much time, money and effort into our last garden and sadly had to leave it all behind which has made us more than a little hesitant to do it all over again. We did plant a bunch of stuff this winter, but because we really only did the bare minimum to prepare the soil (which is basically just sand here in Perth!) things haven't grown that well. I've still got lots of stuff in pots and we've been eating strawberries a couple of times a week already which is really cool, but really it's only my herbs and rocket that are still producing.

broccoli + rocket pesto
Broccoli + rocket pesto

My favourite way to use broccoli pesto is to simply mix it through freshly cooked gluten-free spaghetti, but I imagine it would also be lovely dolloped on top of a roast vege frittata, spread over gluten-free pizza bases or smeared on toast with avocado slices...  

broccoli + rocket pesto pasta
digging in

*I had planned on eating this bowl of spaghetti myself, but Ada got in the second I took my last shot and cleaned up the whole bowlful!

broccoli + rocket pesto {vegan}
I add white miso paste to give the same lovely rich saltyness that parmesan does. But should you be fine with parmesan, just add a good handful instead. If going the white miso route and you're strictly gluten-free, make sure you double check the label to make sure there's no wheat in it.
Makes 2 cups

  • 1 large broccoli, cut into small florets, stem peeled and sliced 
  • 1 large handful rocket (arugula)
  • 1 small handful mint leaves
  • 3 tablespoons lightly toasted pinenuts*
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons white miso paste (check it's gluten-free if necessary), optional
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
  • 3-4 tablespoons reserved cooking water  
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cook broccoli in a large saucepan of salted water 2-3 minutes or until just tender. Drain (reserving 3-4 tablespoons of broccoli cooking water for later) and immediately run under cold water to refresh. Set aside in a colander to drain until needed.
Place all of the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides a few times as you go. Add a little more olive oil or cooking water if need be to get the blades turning better. Taste and season. If not using straight away, transfer to a jar, drizzle with a little extra olive oil and store in the fridge for 2-3 days.

* To toast pinenuts, cook in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring often until lightly golden.

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    August 21, 2012 at 12:45 am

    Yum! I make something similar as a very loose interpretation of pesto! Usually a mix of green leaves such as silverbeet/kale etc, or broccoli, lightly steamed and blended with feta, olive oil, lemon, seasonings and a handful of almonds if I have them. Stirred through pasta, this is my favourite quick go-to, and a great way to use up leftover greens before market day!
    Very jealous of your soon-to-be bared arms and legs, I think we still have a bit longer until that happens in Chch.. haha.

    • Reply
      August 21, 2012 at 12:03 pm

      Love the sound of feta in the mix!

  • Reply
    August 21, 2012 at 9:09 am

    This looks delicious. Points to anyone who grows things in Perth's sand. Thank goodness I only discovered growing vegies after I had moved to Melbourne. (it has the best beaches though)

    • Reply
      August 21, 2012 at 12:01 pm

      Our first garden in Perth was the best we've ever had, but yes mostly it's hard to grow in sand 😉

  • Reply
    Megan. K
    August 21, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Classic I just made something similar for dinner tonight for my kids only I use sunflower seeds instead of pinenuts as pine nuts are so expensive. Broccoli is really cheap again and it is one of the only veges I can always get them to eat so third night in a row it has featured for dinner!!!. Never thought to use miso in the pesto but definitely will give it a go next time sounds delicious!

    • Reply
      August 21, 2012 at 2:37 pm

      Great minds think alike 😉 Sunflower seeds sound like a great sub for pinenuts too.

  • Reply
    Colette Zabo
    August 21, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Broccoli & rocket, what a fresh idea. I've gotta try this new idea. Thanks!

  • Reply
    The InTolerant Chef
    August 21, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Great idea with the miso! I planted fruit trees at a rental that we planned on buying, but the landlord moved us out with6 days notice, we had been there 5 yrs! He wanted to move into or place himself- maybe so he could enjoy my veggie garden?

    • Reply
      August 22, 2012 at 1:03 am

      Haha that's why we thought the owners wanted to move back into our last house too 😉

  • Reply
    August 21, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    Had you over for supper tonight:)Made mine with sunflower seeds and ginger mint.Put over rice and kale,bok choy,avocado then lemon over everything.It was good Emm,really good.

    • Reply
      August 22, 2012 at 1:13 am

      Oh I do hope one day we really can eat together, so glad you enjoyed this xx

  • Reply
    Stephanie, The Recipe Renovator
    August 21, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    Hi Emma! What a great idea to sub white miso for parm! Will have to try it next time. Thanks for the lovely shoutout on Twitter. Excited to read more of your blog!

    • Reply
      August 22, 2012 at 1:14 am

      You are so welcome Stephanie, your recipes really have blown my mind and I look forward to trying out some of your vegan cheeses xx

  • Reply
    August 22, 2012 at 1:28 am

    I love making pesto with any kind of greens I can get my hand on. Never thought of making with Broccoli but I am very curious now 🙂

  • Reply
    Suzanne Perazzini
    August 22, 2012 at 3:23 am

    I use pesto in various different forms but I had never thought of using broccoli. There are some other great ideas in the comments as well.

  • Reply
    August 22, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Hey there Emma, your garden may not be thriving, but that is some gorgeous rocket! I've never thought to add miso to a pesto and I bet it does give that same salty tang that Parm does – very cool!

  • Reply
    August 24, 2012 at 11:39 am

    I am in the same boat as you Emma! As you know we had to leave our house recently, and this houses' garden isnt looking fantastic. It has horrible light and I've just not put effort into it, just in case we have to move again :/ I've got potatoes in now though, they're always a safe choice!

    I'm def going to try this pesto, always up for a new way to healthy up a pasta lunch that I take to school – and broccoli is so good for you, it's just what I need!

  • Reply
    Cindy DG
    August 24, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Love pesto!! My name is Cindy and I blog over at I wanted to invite you to link up your recipe at our Gluten Free Fridays Recipe Link up party! It happens every Friday and we'd love to have you join us with some of your awesome recipes! You can find this week's link up here:
    Also be sure to link up your blog on our Gluten Free Bloggers directory. You can reach the directory by clicking the "glutenfree bloggers" tab on our blog! Thanks, Cindy 🙂

  • Reply
    September 4, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    PS have just made this with cashews and parmesan instead of pinenuts and miso, and it is gorgeous! We've put them on pizzas and it's added a green lightness to our dinner! Will make this again!!

  • Reply
    September 14, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    What a creative recipe for pesto. I love that you've used broccoli. What a terrific way to get the kids to eat it!

  • Reply
    Mairi @ Toast
    September 19, 2012 at 6:25 am

    Yum….love any sort of pesto & this one sounds wonderful! Your rocket looks amazing….puts my garden to shame….I have a few free days next week & garden is on the list…at least need to get herb garden sorted!

  • Reply
    October 23, 2012 at 4:59 am

    Love this recipe, and so did my 2yo. I didn't tinker with your recipe, at all – reminded me of something I have eaten at a Hamilton cafe! Question is, what else can I do with 1kg of white miso paste?! And how long will it last after it's opened? It's the only quantity I could find (in Hamilton) and I'm dairy-free but not THAT into miso soup. Congrats on the book deal!

    • Reply
      October 23, 2012 at 5:09 am

      Thank you Tracey! Was it at Machina that you once tried this? Because that's where I used to make it many years ago…
      So miso paste should last indefinitely in the fridge. I just put it into a lidded container or if it's in a pouch just pop it into a zip-lock bag. I use mine mostly in salad dressings like this one,

      But do a quick google search too and I'm sure you'll come up with loads of interesting ways to use it up. I've even seen recipes for cookies with it in 🙂

  • Reply
    Michelle Bourdon
    January 21, 2013 at 7:32 am

    Oh my goodness, this is so yummy!! It's not quite dinner time so I have had to walk away before I eat it all by the spoonful. I did sub in parmesan and I also added some home grown birds eye chillis to give it an extra kick. We were also out of pine nuts so I pan toasted some chick peas instead. Still delicious. This will go into my rotation of quick but yummy dinners. Thank you!!

    • Reply
      July 13, 2013 at 10:47 am

      You're welcome Michelle! Pan-toasted chickpeas sound like a lovely addition 🙂

  • Reply
    July 13, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Hi Emma,

    I made something similar to this, taking your recipe as a reference. But, as I didn't have any arugula and some of the other ingredients, I varied it a bit.
    I steamed a small piece of broccoli (about as big as half a bundle of herbs) and pureed it in my Vitamix with mint, 5 cashew nuts, 1 tsp nutritional yeast, some salt, pepper, lemon juice (to taste), olive oil and (lots of) broccoli steaming water (because the amount kept being too small for the mixer). It was rather a broccoli sauce, but it tasted so much better than I had expected! It was really, really good in fact!
    Thank you very much for mentioning the mint. I think this did add a lot of freshness and I'd never have thought of combining broccoli with mint! =)
    Actually I was just looking for something to do with the rest of my broccoli, as I had run out of the ingredients to make my favorite broccoli salad from. As a kid I loved broccoli when my Mum made dishes with it, but recently I've only ever found ones where you have pasta with whole florets in them and I don't like this much … so I was expecting an "okay" dinner and I got a fabulous one =)

    • Reply
      July 13, 2013 at 10:47 am

      Ah so glad to hear my recipe inspired such a great dinner 🙂 xx

  • Reply
    Ming Ta
    November 27, 2013 at 8:54 am

    Absolutely delicious!
    I love my regular basil pesto, but this was a nice variation to a classic.
    Thanks for the recipe!
    Ming, Gluten Free Wagon

  • Reply
    March 27, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Love the idea of broccoli and miso in the pesto! I love pesto (as you can probably tell from the blog titel) so will def have to try yours!

  • Reply
    February 9, 2016 at 2:10 am

    This is genius! I just made it and it is absolutely delicious indeed. Thank you!

  • Leave a Reply