Donna Hay’s mean green pesto pasta

Donna Hay’s easy mean green pesto pasta recipe serves up a big boost of veg – the kids will never guess it’s packed with broccoli!

William Meppem and Chris Court


2 small heads broccoli (500g), roughly chopped
180ml extra virgin olive oil
375g orecchiette (or try a wholemeal pasta)
45g slivered almonds or pine nuts
1½ cups (35g) basil leaves
1 cup (25g) mint leaves
1 cup (25g) flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tsp finely grated lemon rind
60ml lemon juice
80g finely grated parmesan
sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste

1. Place the broccoli in a food processor and pulse until it resembles grains of rice (try 5 bursts of 3 seconds each).
2. Place half the oil in a large deep-sided nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add the broccoli and cook, stirring with a spatula, for 3-4 minutes or until it’s almost soft but still bright green. Remove from the heat.
3. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water, stirring once with a spatula, for 8–10 minutes or until just soft.
4. Place the almonds or pine nuts, basil, mint, parsley, lemon rind and juice, the parmesan and the remaining oil in the food processor and process into a rough paste. Pour it into the pan with the broccoli, scraping the sides with a spatula.
5. Carefully reserve 125ml of the pasta’s cooking liquid. Place a colander in the sink and, wearing oven gloves, pour in the pasta to drain. Place the hot pasta and the reserved liquid into the pan with the pesto. Place over low heat, add some salt and pepper and stir until heated through and combined.
6. Divide the pasta among bowls and top with some extra parmesan to serve.

Basics to Brilliance Kids by Donna Hay is published by Fourth Estate, price £20. To order a copy for £15 until 1 July, visit or call 0844 571 0640; p&p is free on orders over £15.