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Max La Manna’s Stem and Herbs Pesto Pasta Recipe


For the 1 million followers of Max La Manna on Instagram, his scrumptious recipes are no secret. Whether you’re already a fan or you’re just getting acquainted with his culinary genius, his latest cookbook, “You Can Cook This!”, promises to be a delightful culinary journey.

Featuring 135 simple, plant-based recipes, the book champions flavorful dishes that avoid food wastage and are easy on the pocket. Katie Couric, a fan herself, recently collaborated with La Manna to cook up a mouth-watering stem and herbs pesto pasta dish. The duo had a fantastic time cooking and relishing the dish, a glimpse of which is available in the linked video below. If you’re tempted to recreate this dish, the recipe details follow.


  • 1–2 broccoli stems, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, and some more for drizzling
  • 200g of mafalde, fusilli, or any pasta of your choice
  • 2–3 large handfuls of mixed fridge greens and soft herbs (keep some herbs for garnishing)
  • 30g toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds (and extra for serving)
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast (or 1 tbsp grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving if you’re not following a plant-based diet)
  • Zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp vegan/plant-based butter


  1. Start by boiling a large pot of salted water.
  2. Once boiling, add the broccoli stems and cook for 2-3 minutes or until soft.
  3. Remove the stems and place them in a high-speed blender, together with garlic, herbs, greens, sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast, salt, lemon juice, and olive oil.
  4. Blend until you achieve a smooth consistency. If it’s too thick, add a bit of pasta water.
  5. Add pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente.
  6. Drain the pasta, making sure to save around 50ml of the water.
  7. Place the drained pasta back in the pan over a low flame and gently mix in the butter.
  8. Add the pesto and lemon zest, ensuring the pasta is evenly coated.
  9. Serve hot, garnished with more toasted seeds, Parmesan, and fresh herbs.


Enjoy this delightful dish that promises a burst of flavors and embodies the culinary expertise of Max La Manna. It’s a delightful fusion of health, taste, and sustainability.

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