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Roasted Broccoli Pasta Sauce

Roasted Broccoli Pasta Sauce

Pureed roasted broccoli with white beans makes for a rich, flavorful vegetarian pasta sauce.

Roasted Broccoli Pasta Sauce |

[Disclaimer: I received a free copy of The Vegetarian Flavor Bible – plus two more to giveaway to our readers! I was not compensate for writing this post.]

If I could only save one cookbook in a fire, The Flavor Bible by Karen Page & Andrew Dornenburg would be one of the contenders.

While not really a cookbook, this extensive resource has really expanded my flavor horizons in the kitchen. I actually have two copies – one in my kitchen and one in my upstairs office – which I reference at least weekly, sometimes daily.

The Flavor Bible

So, when Karen reached out to me to see if I wanted a copy of her new The Vegetarian Flavor Bible to review; well, obviously, I didn’t say no. (It was more like a teenage girl reaction of “OMG -tots!”)

And even cooler, I’m participating in her virtual book tour celebrating registered dietitians and National Nutrition Month along with some awesome RD bloggers.

The Vegetarian Flavor Bible inspires Roasted Broccoli Pasta Sauce via

The bulk of the Vegetarian Flavor Bible focuses on food flavor pairings for a long list of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds along with some flavor matches for cheese.

But you don’t have to be vegan or even vegetarian (which I’m neither) to glean from this book. Despite some of the heavy vegan content in the first two chapters, anyone – meat eater or not – who wants to include more veggies and fruit into their daily diet could definitely use this resource for creativity in the kitchen.

Pureed roasted broccoli with white beans and pasta water makes for a rich, flavorful vegetarian pasta sauce |

So, this recipe was inspired by a technique Karen and Andrew use at home – pureeing cooked veggies into a creamy sauce for pasta without cream or butter. (Though I used Parmesan cheese in my version as it’s no secret that I think dairy foods can fit into a healthful diet.)

I flipped to “BROCCOLI” in the book and was inspired by these pairings:

broccoli + garlic + olive oil + Parmesan cheese + walnuts
broccoli + garlic + lemon + olive oil + chili pepper flakes

This sauce is really like making a pesto (in fact, next time I will try adding the walnuts to the blender instead of sprinkling on top as I did here.) Pasta cooking water is what’s key in binding and thickening the sauce – an age-old Italian cooking trick.

The recipe is vegetarian (and would be vegan except for the Parmesan cheese, which you could omit if you wanted.)

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Roasted Broccoli Pasta Sauce |

Roasted Broccoli Pasta Sauce

  • Yield: 4-6 servings. 1x


  • 6 cups chopped broccoli
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
  • 1 (15 ounce can) low sodium Northern white or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • Juice and zest of half of lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Pasta water
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, toss together broccoli, olive oil, garlic, salt and black pepper. Spread onto baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes, until broccoli has softened (stirring every 5 minutes or so.)
  2. While broccoli is cooking, cook pasta according to package. Be sure to save about 2 cups of pasta water when draining. Keep pasta warm until sauce is ready.
  3. Remove broccoli from oven and add to blender or food processor. Add beans, lemon juice, lemon zest, red pepper flakes and 1 1/4 cups pasta water. Puree well and add in more pasta water as needed to make a smoother sauce.
  4. Toss half of broccoli sauce with pasta (store remaining pasta sauce in sealed container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.) Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and walnuts. Serve warm.

Instead of broccoli, you could swap in cauliflower, carrots, beets – the list goes on with the different veggies you could feature in this sauce for sure. In fact, here are a few more of our favorite veggie pasta sauces: Spinach Avocado Alfredo Sauce and Butternut Squash Fettuccine Alfredo.

Roasted Broccoli Pasta Sauce |
Are you familiar with The Flavor Bible? What’s your favorite veggie to pair with pasta?

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Saturday 28th of February 2015

I love this idea! Never thought of making a sauce this way. Definitely want to try this for dinner tonight!

Melanie @ Nutritious Eats

Friday 27th of February 2015

Yes! Karen and Andrew spoke at the IFBC this year which was held in Seattle. So inspiring and I heard amazing things about the book.

Deanna Segrave-Daly

Saturday 28th of February 2015

Very cool! I heard them speak at IACP in Portland a few years back with Michael Ruhlman - it was a great panel :)

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