Pasta and Broccoli with Kale Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes, and Shiitake “Bacon”

An improvised meal that took under 30 minutes!


I love pasta! I always have several packages in the pantry for an easy meal. My favorite brand is Jovial brown rice pasta but I also enjoy Tinkyada, Trader Joe’s and Sgloglini. All have brown rice and other whole grain options and good texture.

I also always have nuts and seeds and nutritional yeast in the pantry, and several different kinds of miso in the fridge (they keep for a very long time as they are fermented and contain sodium) and some type of dark leafy green – usually kale and sometimes arugula, spinach, collards or bok choy. And most of the time broccoli – fresh or frozen.

In other words, I make sure to have enough ingredients on my shelves and in the fridge to throw an easy, delicious and healthful meal together.

I created this recipe with what I had – and I happened to still have a few fresh items from the framer’s market on Sunday like broccoli, cherry tomatoes and shiitake mushrooms.

You can substitute spinach for the kale. If I had it I would have put in lots of fresh basil. You can sub the walnuts and Brazil nuts with other nuts and seeds like pine nuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews, hazelnuts, sunflower, pumpkin seeds or hemp hearts.

If you don’t have time to make the shiitake bacon, use Kalamata olives for a salty punch.

Play around and discover your favorite pesto recipe!


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Pasta and Broccoli with Kale Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes, and Shiitake “Bacon”

recipe from Lisa Rice's Kitchen Plantastic


Shitake Bacon

Shitake mushrooms thinly sliced (about a cup)

1 T tamari or soy suace

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp maple syrup

a few drops liquid smoke

optional: a couple drops toasted sesame oil for flavor


1 cup nuts and/or seeds combo

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

2 garlic cloves

1/4-1/2 cup fresh herbs

4 cups kale (or spinach)

1/2 an avocado

1/2 a lemon, juiced

1 T yellow miso

lotsa fresh cracked black pepper


Broccoli florets (or cauliflower but smaller pieces)

1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved



Bacon: Air Fryer: Mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and toss the mushroom in with your hands and gently toss and slightly massage until coated. Spread out on lightly oiled rack in the air fryer and cook  at 350 for about 18- 20 minutes, and use a metal spatula to toss it. Leave in air fryer to cool while you prepare everything else.

Oven: same as above except spread on a parchment lined cookie sheet in a preheated 350 oven – check doneness after 15 minutes, if still very soft, toss and cook another 3- 5.

Pasta and broccoli:

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add your pasta and set a timer to go off 3 minutes before the time on the box. When your timer goes off, add broccoli florets to the water and cook another minute or two (you want the broccoli bright green and crunchy). Scoop out a cup of the pasta water and set aside.  While the pasta is cooking, make your pesto:


Pulse 1/2 cup walnuts and 1/2 cup Brazil nuts (you can use pine nuts, cashews, pistachios…whatever you’ve got on hand!), with 2 garlic cloves in a food processor until crumbly. Add 1/4 cup nutritional yeast and a handful of fresh herbs if you’ve got (I had a little bit of basil so I also added Italian parsley and oregano). Pulse in the herbs. Add about 4 cups cleaned and stemmed kale, 1/2 an avocado, the juice of half a lemon (about 1 T) and 1 T miso (I used a low sodium yellow miso). Blend until a paste forms. Use a spatula to scoop it into a large bowl.


Add the cooked pasta and broccoli to the bowl with the pesto and toss, adding a drizzle of pasta water here and there as you toss to coat all the noodles. Garnish with the tomatoes and shiitake bacon. And if desired a sprinkle of nut and seed parmesan.


Lisa Rice

Sr. Health Mentor & Director of Content and Promotion