Vita’s Vegan Broccoli Stem Pesto

Broccoli stem pesto has quickly become one of my favorites. I first made it as a student in the D.C. Urban Gardener’s Certificate Program earlier in the summer. Then, when I was asked to lead a cooking session for my school’s faculty retreat, this dip was among the four I had my colleagues make. The recipe that I distributed was by Clinton Kelly of The Chew and came from the show’s website.  The main revision that I made during the session was to use nutritional yeast flakes in place of the parmesan cheese to create a vegan version.  We keep nutritional yeast in our pantry and use it on popcorn and recipes, like pesto, that feature a nutty, cheesy flavor.  Nutritional yeast is a complete protein and great source of B-complex vitamins, folates, and zinc.  Read more in the article, “Nutritional Yeast:  The Antiviral, Antibacterial Immune-Booster.”  My colleagues enjoyed Kelly’s recipe, but when I got home I jazzed the broccoli stem recipe up even more and came up with my own version that appears below.

I like broccoli stem pesto because it makes use of the part of the broccoli that I normally throw away, so it cuts down on food waste. I also like it because I have basil growing in my front yard, and I love the feeling of planting, growing, and harvesting something just outside my front door.  I really appreciate that the recipe requires no cooking!  I can throw all of the ingredients into a food processor and experience deliciousness minutes later.  Lastly, I appreciate that the vegan version was easy to devise and just as delicious as the non-vegan version.

I invite you to give it a try and let me know how it turned out and what you served it with. And if you enjoy it, share my recipe with others!

VITA’S VEGAN BROCCOLI STEM PESTO                                                         

  • 2 ½ cups roughly chopped raw broccoli stems
  • 2 cups basil leaves loosely packed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 6 Tablespoons pine nuts (Sunflower seeds make a delicious, less expensive substitution.)
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt 
  • ½ teaspoon agave nectar
  • freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes to taste
  1. Add the roughly chopped broccoli stems to a food processor. Pulse until stems are about the size of pine nuts. Then add the basil, garlic, pine nuts, nutritional yeast, olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and agave until thoroughly combined.  Add pepper to taste.
  2. To prevent the pesto from browning, add a layer of olive oil on top or drizzle lemon juice on top. Cover with plastic wrap or put in a container with a tightly fitting lid and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Serve pesto on crackers, bread, pizza, pasta, soup, etc.



About Levita Mondie

Through Vita's Vegan Ventures, I share my passion for and knowledge of life-affirming vegan cuisine, including Soul Food, Mexican, Italian, Indian, Ghanaian and more. Contact me at to schedule cooking classes, demonstrations, lectures, and more. See more details at .
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2 Responses to Vita’s Vegan Broccoli Stem Pesto


    This is absolutely delicious, Levita, and it uses up those broccoli stems I hate to waste! I also use the stems to make broth for vegan cream of broccoli soup. Use your favorite soup recipe and just substitute the broth and soy milk for the non-vegan ingredients. The soup will be thicker if you blend some stems and broccoli into the broth. Yum!

    • Thank you, Sharon, for being a part of my faculty wellness session and for trying the recipes at home! I will be sure to try your delicious recommendations as well! Please share the pesto recipe with friends!

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