Our broccoli pasta is a creamy, tasty, and healthy recipe combining an irresistibly creamy sauce with al dente pasta.
This Italian-inspired recipe will surely please the pickiest of eaters because of its rich taste and luscious texture. Plus, you can make it in 20 minutes with a few simple ingredients.
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I know broccoli doesn't sound that appealing, but trust us: this pasta with broccoli is one of the most satisfying yet healthy pasta dishes you'll ever try.
The combination of a creamy broccoli sauce and al dente pasta is spot on!
The recipe is excellent for a last-minute dinner. Kids and picky adults will love this - this was one of my favorite pasta dishes growing up.
The recipe takes inspiration from Italian cuisine, and it's especially popular in the south in and around the Apulia region.
You'll love this recipe's simplicity, delicious taste, creamy texture, and wholesome ingredients.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Quantities are in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.
When choosing pasta, try to go for something made in Italy. It's healthier and of generally higher quality. Please read the label; it should be made with durum wheat semolina.
We recommend a short pasta type here. Orecchiette pasta is most traditional with this sauce, but you can also use farfalle, fusilli, conchiglie, penne, rotini, rigatoni, etc.
Use fresh broccoli for best results, although you can also use frozen ones if you have those in your freezer.
You can use broccoli florets and leaves if some are attached to the broccoli head.
We recommend saving the larger stems for a delicious broccoli soup.
Try to use extra virgin olive oil for the best taste.
Compared to regular olive oil, extra virgin is fruitier, nuttier, and more flavorful in general. It also contains more antioxidants, which are good for us.
Fresh garlic enhances the flavor of the broccoli. Our tip is to grate it finely or press it with a garlic press.
Red pepper flakes
Pasta with broccoli should have a mild, spicy mouthfeel. A pinch of red pepper flakes helps do just that.
Substitute cayenne pepper or chili powder for red pepper flakes.
Salt and pepper
You'll need sea salt or kosher salt to season the pasta cooking water and the sauce. Black pepper is optional.
Grated parmesan cheese is a match made in heaven with the broccoli sauce.
The original recipe is without parmesan cheese; they use anchovies to boost the dish's umami.
If you are vegan, you can make pasta with broccoli without cheese or use a non-dairy cheese alternative.
How to make broccoli pasta
Start with the broccoli sauce
Cut the broccoli into small florets. Boil them in a large pot of salted water for 5 minutes or until fork tender but not fully cooked.
Tip: we recommend cooking the broccoli in 1 gallon (4 liters) of water seasoned with 1½ tablespoons (20 grams) of sea salt.
In a large skillet, heat the oil, then add grated garlic and red pepper flakes and fry them for 1 minute on low heat.
Take the broccoli out of the water with a slotted spoon (do not discard the water) and add them to the skillet.
Add a ladleful of the reserved cooking water and simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes or until soft. Now, mash them with a fork to make the broccoli sauce.
Stir in the pasta
While the broccoli simmer, cook the pasta in the same large pot of water where you cooked the broccoli.
Cook as per package instructions minus 2 minutes.
Tip: cooking the pasta in the same water where you cook the broccoli will infuse it with flavor.
Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Reserve a cup of pasta water and add half to the pan with the sauce.
Finish cooking the pasta on medium heat for about a minute while stirring and mixing it with the sauce. Add more pasta water if necessary.
Turn the heat off when the pasta is al dente and stir in the grated parmesan cheese.
Taste and adjust for salt and black pepper and serve immediately.
This broccoli pasta recipe is a nutritious and fulfilling main dish and doesn't require much else on the side to have it as a complete meal.
Some recipes suggest adding a squeeze of lemon juice and grated lemon zest on top.
We don't do that, but feel free to do so if you like to add a fresh, zesty, and citrusy flavor.
If you want to pair it with something with more protein, then we can recommend:
Make ahead: As with most pasta recipes, this broccoli pasta is at its best if you eat it right off the skillet soon after making it.
Refrigerator: To store the leftovers, let the pasta cool down completely, then transfer it into an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Reheat: Heat it in the microwave, adding two tablespoons of water as the pasta dries in the fridge. You can also warm it in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil.
Freezing: We don't recommend freezing this recipe.
More pasta recipes
Are you looking for more ideas for delicious pasta recipes? Check out our:
More broccoli recipes
- 12 ounces orecchiette pasta or any other
- 1 pound broccoli 2 medium heads
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic grated
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 handful grated parmesan cheese or dairy-free alternative
- 1 pinch salt & black pepper to taste
- Cut 1 pound broccoli into small florets. Boil them in a large pot of salted water for 5 minutes.Tip: we recommend cooking the broccoli in 1 gallon (4 liters) of water seasoned with 1½ tablespoons (20 grams) of sea salt.
- In a large skillet, fry 2 cloves garlic (grated) and ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes in 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil for 1 minute on low heat.Take the broccoli out of the water with a slotted spoon (do not discard the water) and add them to the skillet.Add 1 cup of the reserved cooking water and simmer for 10 minutes, then mash the broccoli with a fork.
- In the meantime, cook 12 ounces orecchiette pasta in the same large pot of water where you cooked the broccoli.Cook as per package instructions minus 2 minutes.
- Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Reserve a cup of pasta water and add half to the pan with the sauce.
- Finish cooking the pasta on medium heat for about a minute while stirring it in the sauce. Add more pasta water if necessary.When the pasta is al dente, turn the heat off and stir in 1 handful grated parmesan cheese.Taste and adjust for salt and pepper and serve immediately.
- You can add a sprinkle of parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top.