Zero Waste Broccoli Stem Fusilli – Two Ways

Vegan, zero waste chef and Eco-Age contributor Max La Manna shares two ways to work your leftover broccoli stem into a delicious pasta dish.

“Please, finish your broccoli.”

Did you or your children find it troubling to finish this cruciferous vegetable?  I can still hear my father’s voice as he begged that I finish the entire broccoli including the stem too! I guess this was the ‘planting of the seed’ that began my zero waste lifestyle. I’m here to offer an easy no waste recipe, so you can utilise the entire vegetable and send nothing to landfill.

Broccoli is a naturally high in fibre, anti-inflammatory, detoxifying and boasts a powerful antioxidant content not found in any other vegetable. Can you guess that it’s my favourite vegetable to eat now?  You can enjoy roasting, steaming, sautéing, pureeing and even having this hearty and nutrient rich vegetable raw.

However, most of and the best bits of the broccoli are being tossed to the bin.  There is so much you can do with this wonderful anti-ageing vegetable – yes, broccoli is enriched with vitamin C that can help reduce those fine lines and wrinkles, and even acne.

Let’s save our broccoli stalks and reduce our food waste.

Serves 4

1 broccoli crown, chopped 
5 roma tomatoes, quartered sliced
1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
2 garlic cloves, diced
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1 lb fusilli (or try my DIY home pasta recipe and make your own)

Bring a pot of water to a boil and steam the entire broccoli for 5 minutes. Once the broccoli is cooked remove from water and let it cool. Save water from steaming for the pasta. 

In a separate saucepan, add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to cover the base of the pan and begin to sauté your garlic and onions until translucent. Next, add your tomatoes and cook down for 10-15 on a medium low heat.

Once the tomatoes mixture is completed, add to a high-speed blender with nutritional yeast and blend until smooth and creamy.  This is a quick 15-minute tomato sauce that you can make any time.

Saving the water from steaming the broccoli, bring to a boil then add your fusilli pasta.  Cook for 5-7 minutes and strain.  Add pasta to a big bowl, tomato sauce and steamed broccoli. Mix well and serve.  

Optional, more for greens and nutrients – add thinly sliced swiss chard or spinach.


There are multiple recipes and ways to utilise your broccoli stem. One of my favorites is making a broccoli stem pesto sauce.  This requires only a few ingredients which you probably already have laying around in your kitchen cupboard. Here is how you make a no waste broccoli stem pesto:

There are a few key components to making a pesto – first, you start with your base which will be our broccoli stem, add in a few nuts or seeds, then add a herb of choice, some acidity, heaps of acidity and an accent flavor.  When you blend all the ingredients together you literally become a magician and create amazing tasting pesto – all from scratch and nothing to waste.

1  large broccoli stem
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (any nut or seed of your choice)
A large bunch of herbs (mint, basil, parsley – one will do)
2 tablespoon lemon
4 tablespoon olive oil
A pinch of red chilli (or nutritional yeast)

Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend for 2-3 minutes until roughly smooth and creamy.  Store in a mason jar and keep in fridge for 5-7 days.  Will go great with salads, spread on sandwiches and even as a sauce for your pasta. *Pasta was purchased package-free from Whole Foods – just remember to bring your own bag with you*

Wondering how to make your own zero-waste pasta at home? Follow Max’s easy step by step guide.

Read our interview with Max about his journey to a more sustainable lifestyle.