Broccoli Stem Walnut Pesto {recipe} – Waste Not, Want…Yes.

Broccoli Stem Pesto
Speaking of not wasting…

We’ve always had this weird thing about broccoli stems, the part of broccoli that most people don’t eat and end up throwing away. In fact, people don’t eat it so much that most markets sell stem-less broccoli crowns for a price premium. Now, you already know we don’t mind paying a price premium, but the weird thing is, we actually like the tough exterior and superior crunch of the stems.

Unfortunately, we somehow believed that we were “wasting” space in out diets by eating the stems because even though they couldn’t possibly be bad for you, they, kind of like celery, iceberg lettuce, and Doritos, weren’t actually good for you. They just didn’t have any nutritional value.

Or so we thought. (And sorry, yes, we know, there has got to be some nutritional value to Doritos, right?)

Stems are almost identical in nutritional value to their dark, bumpy crowns, with the exception of vitamin A (much less vitamin A, it seems, but that’s easily made up elsewhere).

So though we don’t mind paying more for good foods that we like, we’re going to keep buying the entire broccoli, stem and all. Because we’ve also just discovered that the stems, with some antioxidant-heavy garlic and toasted walnuts, make one heck of a good pesto, too.
Broccoli Stem Pesto

Broccoli Stem + Walnut Pesto


1 clove garlic
2-3 broccoli stems, cut into about ½-inch thick pieces
½ cup toasted walnuts
juice from half a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
¼ cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


Pulse garlic in food processor until chopped. You may have to stop the food processor and push the little garlic bits down the sides.

Add broccoli stems and lemon juice and pulse until chopped. Add toasted walnuts and pulse again until chopped. With the food processor running, very slowly drizzle in olive oil until everything in the processor is the consistency of a pesto. You may need more or less of the olive oil depending on how many/how big your broccoli stems are.

Season with 1 teaspoon salt and a few hard turns on a fresh black pepper mill. Adjust according to your taste. Remember that this is a pesto and should be strong and salty, since you will be mixing into pasta, grains, etc. We “thinned out the pesto with a tiny bit more olive oil and just straight dipped lightly steamed vegetables in it, including lightly steamed broccoli florets.

Broccoli-on-broccoli is exactly the kind of action we like.

by Sarah J. Gim on May 16, 2012 · 10 comments

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

charlotte May 17, 2012 at 5:44 am

Broccoli stems are the ONLY part of raw broccoli that I can stomach – and I’m NOT at all a fussy eater. I always peel the harder skin, and eat the middle. Good to know it’s nutritional. Even better to know that it makes pesto!


amanda gargula May 21, 2012 at 4:10 am

do you really need to peel the stems?


John Walkley March 21, 2020 at 3:55 pm

I never peeled the stems. The pesto was perfect.

Megan August 25, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Did you cook the stems before putting them in the pesto? Our pesto tastes fine, but did not come out nearly as green as yours!


Sarah August 26, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Megan: I didn’t cook the broccoli stems, but other recipes for similar pesto call for blanching the broccoli stems…!


Dave March 4, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Good use for the content in the stalks. Whole stalks, uncooked. I augmented with an extra clove of garlic.

Tasted it and slightly acidic. Added an extra 1/4 cup deluxe mixed nuts (no peanuts). Perfect!

Thanks for the inspiration!


matt August 11, 2013 at 1:45 pm

This pesto is quite tasty. I suggest cooking the stems briefly and thinning the pesto with a bit of the cooking water, otherwise it needs more oil.


Ben April 3, 2015 at 3:04 pm

Have always struggled with finding recipes for broccoli stems, so love this :)

I’ve even featured this recipe here:



Varun Sharma April 24, 2020 at 4:50 am

Tried this recipe today and it is absolutely divine. Thanks for sharing your recipe.


Graham Onions November 7, 2020 at 5:09 am

Excellent recipe goona try this for outdoor grill party


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