Donna Hay’s Mean Green Pesto Pasta

We love to have the kids help and learn to feel comfortable with cooking. This easy meal from our fav Donna Hay is one for them to try at any time.


  • 2 small heads of broccoli (500g), roughly chopped
  • ⅓ cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 375g orecchiette
  • ⅓ cup (45g) slivered almonds or pine nuts
  • 1½ cups basil leaves (the star of pesto)
  • 1 cup mint leaves (a fresh twist)
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
  • ¼ cup (60ml) lemon juice
  • 1 cup (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 non-stick 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, basil, mint, parsley, lemon rind and juice, 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 ½ cup (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 between serving bowls and top with some extra parmesan to serve if you like. Serves 4–6

Basics to Brilliance Kids (revised edition) from Donna Hay online, $45, is an all-new food adventure taking simple recipes that kids adore and transforming them with Donna’s signature healthy makeover into brilliant meals for the whole family. Over 200 pages of step-by-step recipes designed to transform everyday activities into healthy, fun-filled adventures.

Photography: Chris Court 

Other winter warmers from Donna Hay:

Chicken noodle soup

Apple and Coconut Caramel Cobbler