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Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Whipped Ricotta. Better known as the deliciously healthy-ish spring pasta bowl. Homemade broccoli pesto with raw broccoli, fresh basil, and a bit of parmesan. All tossed with hot pasta, fried lemon, and creamy ricotta cheese. It’s a fresh springy take on pasta, that’s ready in 30 minutes or less. This dish makes for a vibrant pasta bowl that’s perfect for Meatless-Monday, or any other day of the week too.

overhead photo of Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Whipped Ricotta and hands on bowl

We might (literally) be buried in snow, but regardless, my recipes are moving into spring. I’m ready, aren’t you? Ready for colorful, lighter dishes, fresh spring berries, brunch, salads, edible flowers, and everything that comes with spring produce. Ooh, and maybe some roasted artichokes too?!

PS. I’m not joking about the artichokes, you should make some? Maybe with a vegan aioli? Let me know!

This happens to me every single March like clockwork. We’ve switched the clocks forward, the days are getting longer, and spring is on my mind. But, at least around here, the snow is still (heavily) falling, with lots more in the forecast.

overhead photo of Broccoli Pesto

To keep sane, I begin making spring food a little on the early side. It’s kind of a combo of winter and spring actually. Somewhat cozy, but still light and colorful, which in my mind is really the best of both worlds. And that’s where this pasta comes in. It’s fresh, bright, full of vegetables, hinted with citrus, and involves plenty of pasta and cheese. So you see?

The perfect mix. And…it’s no fuss, and super simple. Just the way all Monday recipes should be.

side angled photo of Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Whipped Ricotta

Now, let me tell you about the broccoli pesto. I know this might seem a little bit odd, but don’t doubt me today. I promise, broccoli pesto is very good, and remember, we’re not eating it plain, we’re tossing it with ricotta pasta!

Nothing not to love.

Unlike other broccoli pesto recipes, I decided to keep the broccoli completely raw instead of blanching it first in boiling water. When I first made this recipe, I did blanch the broccoli. By the time the pesto hit the pasta, I felt like the broccoli turned to mush and lost a lot of its flavor, texture, and color. Since we’re tossing the pesto with HOT pasta, the raw broccoli immediately begins to cook. The heat from the pasta creates perfectly steamed broccoli without turning it to mush.

side angle photo of Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Whipped Ricotta

In addition to the pesto, I also added a little lemon for a bright pop of citrus…I also just really love lemon.

Here’s the thing. While I left the broccoli raw, I decided to pan fry the lemon zest in a bit of olive oil. This really gives the pasta some serious flavor and helps to better infuse each bowl with hints of lemon. It’s DELICIOUS, a true game changer. If you’ve never fried your lemon zest, I strongly encourage you to give it a try as soon as possible.

overhead close up photo of Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Whipped Ricotta

OK, and now, the ricotta. You guys are always asking how I create recipes and continue to come up with new ideas. While I get a ton of inspiration from my family and the changing seasons, I also get a lot inspiration from my own head. I am a very, very, very visual person. Many times I’ll have a picture of a dish in my head and create the recipe based off of that. Seems a little crazy, but it’s the way I work. And this process often forms my favorite recipes…and photos for that matter.

Anyway, when I pictured this pasta in my head, I pictured it sitting atop a creamy bed of whipped ricotta. Why, I don’t know. But both the picture and the thought of pasta mixed with creamy ricotta was too good not to create. So that’s exactly what I did. I whipped up some ricotta cheese in the food processor and spread into the bottom of each pasta bowl before adding the hot broccoli pesto pasta. Once the pasta hits the ricotta it slowly start to sink in, warming the cheese, and making every twirl of pasta so delicious.

It’s different, but so, so good. The perfect pasta for a Monday night!

overhead close up photo of Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Whipped Ricotta and fork in bowl

side angled photo of Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Whipped Ricotta and fork in bowl

If you make this spring pasta, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to also tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Creamy Broccoli Pesto and Ricotta Pasta

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories Per Serving: 451 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Ingredients

  • 1 large head of broccoli, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 pound of your favorite pasta
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • black pepper
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese, whipped in the food processor, if desired

Instructions

  • 1. In a blender or food processor, combine the broccoli, basil, parmesan, olive oil and a pinch of salt and crushed red pepper. Pulse until chunky smooth. 
    2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta. 
    3. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add the shallot and lemon zest and cook until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Drop the pasta into the skillet. Add the broccoli pesto, lemon juice, and a pinch of pepper. Toss to combine. Thin the pasta, as desired, with the reserved pasta cooking water. 
    4. Spread the ricotta cheese into the bottom of each individual serving bowl. Spoon the pasta over the cheese. Swirl the pasta into the cheese. Enjoy!

horizontal photo of Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Whipped Ricotta

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Comments

    1. Hi there! Yes, that should work just fine! I would maybe add a bit of honey and olive oil to make it that nice smooth consistency! xTieghan

  1. 5 stars
    This was so refreshingly delicious… so easy to whip up in my vitamix. Move over Jamie’s 15 min meals lol. This ones a definite recipe keeper. I served it with roasted pinenuts… next time I will up the Parmesan add more lemon zest and add some crispy maple roasted chickpeas on top. Thanks for the recipe.

  2. 4 stars
    Made it exactly as directed. Thought it tasted great! We plan to make it again using some crumbled bacon. We think the salty addition might kick it up a notch!

  3. We loved this recipe! I used broccolini which we prefer to broccoli and skipped the ricotta because of dairy allergies, and it was truly delicious! I used angel hair pasta and instead of cheese in the pesto I use hemp hearts. I also used some fresh garlic scapes from my garden instead of garlic clove which has a much softer taste. Thank you, we were licking our bowls clean!

    1. Amazing!! I am so happy this recipe turned out so well for you, Trish! Thank you so much for trying it! xTieghan

  4. Is there any way to use frozen broccoli with this, maybe if you just steamed a few minutes, or do you recommend sticking to fresh? I have a ton of frozen broccoli but not fresh and would prefer not to go to the store for one ingredient!

    1. Hi Julia,
      You can totally use frozen broccoli! I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

  5. 5 stars
    I didn’t have basil or ricotta on hand (#quarantineproblems) but it was amazing even without them. I can’t wait to try it again when I can get my hands on all the ingredients!

    1. Thank you so much Alex! I am glad you were able to use what you have, but I hope you love these more when you do have all of the ingredients! xTieghan

  6. 5 stars
    This was so delicious! I topped with a little salad of pea shoots and fresh tomatoes with capers, tossed in olive oil and lemon juice.

  7. 5 stars
    I loved this so much! The pesto is so easy and versatile. I’ve used the leftovers on some crostini, and next I’ll use it as pizza sauce. Thanks for the great recipe!

  8. 5 stars
    Wow this is everything. Such a simple yet elevated dish. The whipped ricotta and lemony undertones make this a winner.

  9. Just found your Instagram account and this was the first recipe I tried – so good! I had it with roasted tomatoes and toasted bread on the side. Can’t wait to try more of your recipes! (The whipped ricotta – brilliant!) Thank you!

    1. Hi Melissa! Welcome!! I am so glad this turned out so well for you! I hope you love all of the other recipes of mine you try! Thank you! xTieghan

  10. 5 stars
    Made last night, delicious, even my pickiest eater loved! A crowd pleaser and perfect for Meatless Monday!! thank you!!

  11. Oh my it’s only 09:30 here in Scotland but I WANT THIS NOW!
    Think I’m going to serve it with some crispy(ish) chickpeas as I’m trying to decrease my carb load!
    Thanks for the ongoing inspiration Tieghan!

  12. 5 stars
    This was so delicious! The whipped ricotta adds decadence and the perfect amount of richness. Also pesto/ricotta can be prepared before.

  13. 4 stars
    I loved this! I’ve been cooking for myself recently, as my roommate refuses to eat anything too out of the box. I needed almost a full cup of olive oil to make my pesto that consistency and also added more parm but it was so good! I thought I would have plenty of leftovers but I ate so much of it, theres barely any left!

  14. 5 stars
    I’ve made this 3 times now, my family just loves it!! Thank you, it’s so simple to make, and takes sookk good – and looks stunning on a plate as well! One of my favorite recipes!

  15. 5 stars
    I hope I don’t offend you when I say I made your recipe but…..I always have intentions of making the recipes as is and then I forget an item at the store, in this case, I forgot the basil for the pesto, so I had to improvise. I roasted my broccoli in olive oil with garlic. When it was done I added a little more olive oil, some parmesan and lemon. I served it over the whipped ricotta that I mixed with honey goat cheese. I had never thought of whipped ricotta, but now, I cant think of anything else! It was delicious with the roasted broccoli and lemon but now I am looking forward to making the recipes as is, I know it is going to be delicious! Thank you again for ALL the wonderful recipes!!!

    1. Hi Cindy! Not at all! I am so glad you loved this recipe and you made it work for you! That is so great! Thank you! xTieghan

  16. I made this last night, so good, somehow putting ricotta on the bottom of bowl works so much better than on top! & I added broccoli roasted with garlic for even more green veggie yum!

  17. 5 stars
    Just made this and it is amazing! Served it with a strawberry and avocado salad and a crusty French baguette!
    Thank you for another easy, tasty recipe!

  18. 5 stars
    This recipe was so delicious!! Made it for my family last night and everyone loved it. My daughter brought the leftovers to school for lunch the next day and it heats up well. She then came home and ate more for a snack before her diving practice. They can’t wait for me to make it again. Love your blog and your photography is beautiful too.

  19. 5 stars
    Made this for lunch yesterday! My husband and I loved it!! Perfect fresh pasta for spring and honestly it is so quick and easy to prepare. You are my go to cookbook and blog for almost every meal!

  20. 4 stars
    Good morning – We made this for dinner last night. Overall, really great, but there was a slight “bitter” taste to it my wife and daughter felt. I added a clove a garlic into the pesto – maybe that was it? Felt it needed some chopped tomato (which my daughter added), or to add a protein some grilled shrimp. Overall, really good and easy to make. And YES, the WHIPPED ricotta was delicious and added such a great creamy texture. Thanks for this and ALL of your recipes!

  21. 5 stars
    Just had to come tell you that I made this for dinner tonight and absolutely loved it! The flavors are so perfect for spring and the broccoli pesto will be in serious rotation for weeknight meals. Love how quickly this comes together too!

  22. Well I have followed the recipe but the end result was not so yummy as it looked on your page. My boys for sure did not like it.

    1. Hi Erika! I am so sorry you did not enjoy this! I hope you love some other recipes on my blog! xTieghan

    1. HI! Yes, the broccoli is raw. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you! xTieghan

  23. 5 stars
    You are AMAZING!!! Making this for a dinner party this weekend … sorta, kinda, healthy-ish and so easy to make but the presentation with the whipped ricotta … BRILLIANT! I LOVE everything you do. You are my GO-TO cook. The only cookbook that sits on my counter as a permanent part of the kitchen landscape. Everything always works, always tastes amazing, ALWAYS gets rave reviews! 🙂 You make me look good 🙂

    1. HI! I recommend roasted chicken or salmon! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you! xTieghan

  24. 5 stars
    Such a unique idea to place the pasta on the bed of whipped ricotta. Makes this dish sound so luscious. You may have just created a new way to eat pasta that will show up in restaurants around the globe. Love the whole concept. I’m crazy about pesto in any form and your broccoli pesto is so interesting. I’ll have to give it a try. Thanks for all your novel recipe ideas.

  25. 5 stars
    I made this last night for dinner. It is so springy and fresh! Will definitely be making again. The bonus is the whipped ricotta. I almost didn’t do the extra step of whipping it but I am so glad I did! It makes the whole dish so creamy and delicious. Thanks again for another winning recipe 🙂

  26. This is my kind of pasta! Love the broccoli pesto and whipped ricotta is a perfect complement!

  27. 5 stars
    Yum, love lemony pasta. Great way to use/enjoy broccoli, too. Broccoli isn’t a natural favorite of mine, as I prefer the stems to the “little trees”, but this looks like a great way to eat it.

    Re: aioli: if you are going with a vegan type, can you please also include a non-vegan version for the rest of us.
    Love the artichoke idea.