Pasta with Broccoli is a one-pot meal ready in about 45 minutes! The broccoli is cooked down until it envelopes the pasta in a garlicky sauce. You’ll love this authentic Italian recipe from Naples!
For the love of broccoli, you need to make this. Pasta with broccoli is one of my favorite vegetarian meals, one that I cook probably every six weeks, to the delight of my household.
It’s comforting, crave-worthy and comes together in 45 minutes, tops.
Like those meals, pasta with broccoli, as prepared in Naples, is a cross between soup and a pasta dish. By the time you ladle out the servings, most of the liquid will have absorbed.
We’re not draining the water?
No, we’re not draining the water here. The pasta with broccoli is made with just enough water to cook it, while providing starchy goodness that clings to the rigatoni.
The trick is to stir the pot (affiliate link) often, to make sure the water gets spooned over all the pasta.
A delicious broccoli sauce
To me, the best part is the broccoli. While there is a time and place for crisp-tender broccoli, this is not that time nor that place.
The broccoli here gets cooked down until it’s very soft, with parts of it almost melting, enveloping the pasta in its garlicky goodness. It basically becomes like a broccoli sauce, accented with olive oil, freshly grated Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.
I’d be willing to bet even some broccoli haters would enjoy this broccoli pasta. At any rate, I hope you give it a try and love it as much as we do.
Speaking of which, I’ve got to run. That’s my dinner!
(Recipe Source: Adapted from my Mom and Nonna’s version. Originally published on November 13, 2014 and updated now with new photos and additional text.)
Watch the video with volume on to learn how to make Pasta with Broccoli!
Pasta with Broccoli
- 1 bunch broccoli
- 4 cloves garlic (peeled & sliced)
- 1/4 cup olive oil (plus extra to drizzle on each serving)
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (plus extra for serving)
- 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/3 teaspoon salt (divided use)
- 5 1/2 cups warm water (divided use)
- 1 pound medium pasta (such as rigatoni or penne)
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (plus extra for topping each serving)
- Rinse the broccoli and pat it dry. Cut off the thick stalks (and discard them) so that you have florets with 2-3 inches of the stems attached. Slice any thicker stems lengthwise in half. Slice your garlic into thin rounds.
- Heat olive oil in a large pasta pot on medium high. Add garlic and cook for two minutes, stirring so the garlic doesn't burn.
- Lower the heat to medium. Noting the time, add broccoli, pepper flakes and1/4 teaspoon salt and stir. As soon as the oil evaporates, add 1/2 cup water (see notes) and stir.
- Cover the pot and let the broccoli cook until it is soft, stirring occasionally. It should take about 25 minutes from the time you added the broccoli to the pot.
- When the broccoli is soft, add 5 cups of water to the pot. Add in 1/3 teaspoon salt and give it a quick stir. Cover the pan and increase the heat to high. When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until it is al dente. (Check for doneness three minutes before the al dente time listed on the package.)
- When the pasta is cooked, do not drain it. Turn off the heat and add in 1/3 cup Parmesan, stirring to combine.
- Serve with extra Parmesan, a drizzle of oil and red pepper flakes. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to five days.