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.
If you've been following my blog, this one-pot recipe will sound similar to pasta with zucchini, authentic pasta e fagioli and pasta e piselli (pasta with peas).
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.
This is the method used in Naples, birthplace of pizza, eggplant parmigiana and the best cooks on earth! I'm not biased at all.
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.)
P.S. If you love broccoli, don't miss my Broccoli with Gremolata or this Broccoli au Gratin with Fontina!
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)
- ¼ cup olive oil (plus extra to drizzle on each serving)
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes (plus extra for serving)
- ¼ teaspoon plus ⅓ teaspoon salt (divided use)
- 5 ½ cups warm water (divided use)
- 1 pound medium pasta (such as rigatoni or penne)
- ⅓ 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 and ¼ teaspoon salt and stir. As soon as the oil evaporates, add ½ 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 ⅓ 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 ⅓ 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.
Can this be made with Banza pasta?
Hi Jane - I haven't tested it with chickpea pasta. I think it's worth a try, if you follow the cooking time on the package. You may end up with more liquid that doesn't absorb, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Let me know if you try it!
Maria B Rugolo
Recipewas great and tastes delicious. I will say turn your heat down very low when cooking broccoli for 5 minutes. This would be a helpful tip written wirhin the instructions (for me anyway). Thank you for a delicious recipe.
Hi Maria - I'm so glad you enjoyed this! On my stove, I have to cook the broccoli on medium heat to simmer it, but your stove must have a stronger output of heat. I'll make a note to update the recipe with more details.
Can you use a bag of frozen broccoli?
Hi Jane - Sure, just cook the broccoli until it is soft before adding the five cups of water. It may take a different amount of time than what is listed for fresh broccoli.
By far the best pasta with broccoli I have ever made or even tasted. I will be making this again. So easy and who doesn’t love a one pot meal?
Hi Ruth - I'm so happy to hear that! Thanks for letting me know.