Recipe Review

This 15-Minute Broccoli Pesto Pasta Recipe Features a No-Cook Sauce and It’s Toddler-Approved

published Apr 13, 2022
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The Pasta Queen's Pesto of Your Dreams Recipe
Credit: Nathan Hutsenpiller
I Tried the Pasta Queen’s Pesto of Your Dreams Recipe and Here’s Why I Think It’s Probably One of Her Best Yet

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters — cut a sandwich the wrong way or serve it on the wrong plate, and you can have a full-on tantrum on your hands. Getting them to eat their favorite foods usually isn’t an issue, but if green things like broccoli aren’t on that list, it can be nearly impossible.

Thankfully, Amy Palanjian of Yummy Toddler Food is an excellent resource for kid-friendly recipes and tips. The recipe developer, content creator, cookbook author, and mom of three kids recently posted a recipe for a 15-Minute Broccoli Pesto Pasta on her Instagram account @yummytoddlerfood and it looks delicious.

In the reel caption, she notes that it is a favorite no-cook sauce packed with flavor, healthy fats, and broccoli. “It’s how my little guy first realized he likes broccoli (sometimes anyway!),” Palanjian wrote. “And it pairs so darn well with pasta and is a little lemony and perfect for spring.”

To make it, you add raw broccoli, sunflower seeds, Parmesan (or nutritional yeast as a dairy-free substitute), olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and lemon zest to a food processor. In the full recipe post, Palanjian also adds parsley leaves or basil, but those are optional. Blend the mixture, stopping every now and then to push down ingredients from the sides with a small spatula to ensure everything gets mixed in. You can also add olive oil as needed to achieve a smooth texture.

Once the sauce is done, boil a pot of salted water and cook the pasta of your choice (Palanjian uses bowtie) according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the pasta water, then mix in the pesto. “For kids who’ve never had it before, you can start with less, and for kiddos who love it or for you, you can add as much as you want,” Palanjian said. If your pasta seems too dry, however, add in some of the leftover pasta water to change that. 

For any leftovers, Palanjian recommends putting the pesto in a freezer bag, pressing it flat, and freezing it. “You can just break off as much as you need for the next time,” she said. To serve, top it with even more grated Parmesan if desired.

Beyond pasta, the broccoli pesto can also be used as a pizza sauce, a sandwich spread, or stirred into scrambled eggs. However you choose to use it, we hope your toddler loves it — we know we’ll be going back for seconds.