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Broccoli Pasta

4.75 from 4 votes
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posted: 05/19/20

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This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

This Broccoli Pasta is a simple go to weeknight dinner that kids and adults can both agree on. It will become a regular in your dinner rotation.

close up overhead view of broccoli pasta recipe made with shells, broccoli florets, red pepper flakes and freshly grated parmesan cheese

I have made it no secret with my dad that I don’t think his best quality is his cooking. Love you, Dad! (For the record, I think his best quality is his huge compassionate heart.) But! He has a few recipes up his sleeve that are winners.

This Broccoli Pasta recipe is one of those. This was a staple in my house growing up. I can remember standing next to my dad at the stove as he made this delicious easy vegetarian dinner. It’s like a big bowl of comfort.

I have a few friends who are raising vegetarian kiddos, and I beg them to give this dish a try. I think it’s something the whole family will love.

Simple Pasta Dinner

This easy dinner recipe only requires a few ingredients which is one of the things that makes it a winner.

  • Pasta – I like to go with shells, but you can use whatever you have
  • Broccoli
  • Garlic
  • Oil
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Parmesan Cheese

That’s it, my friends. You truly can’t beat simple dinners.

overhead view of pasta shells and broccoli in a bowl with parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes

The Cheese Matters

As my dad told me when passing off this great recipe, it is a simple recipe, which means you must pick your cheese carefully.

I urge you to grab a block of parmesan cheese and freshly grate your own for this recipe. It really can make the difference between you like and loving this recipe. And blocks of parmesan keep so well in the refrigerator for a while.

front view of a metal skillet holding easy broccoli pasta recipe with shells, broccoli, parmesan cheese, and red pepper flakes

How to Make Broccoli Pasta

Even though this is a simple recipe, there are a few key steps that I want to make note of.

  1. Make sure to cook your pasta according to package instructions. This means bringing your water to a roaring boil before adding the dry noodles. And be sure to cook them only as long as the package suggests.
  2. Remove 1/4 cup of cooking water before draining the noodles. That pasta water is starchy and is going to be perfect for helping cook the broccoli.
  3. Heat oil in a skillet before adding any ingredients.
  4. Be careful not to burn your garlic when you add it to the hot oil. You will only be cooking it for about 30 seconds before adding the broccoli.
  5. Grab a cover for the pan. It helps steam the garlic and make it perfectly tender for this recipe.

If You Burn Your Garlic

Again, given the few number of ingredients, we want them to be perfect. If you should find that you did burn your garlic, all is not lost!

Just start over with new oil and fresh garlic. Also, be sure to clean the pan well before starting over so none of the burnt garlic taste remains.

overhead view of a metal skillet holding easy pasta recipe made with shells and broccoli

Multitasking

Like a lot of recipes, this one comes together quickly if you are able to multi task.

Because we are using pasta water for this, we need to wait until the pasta finishes cooking before we move on to sautéing the broccoli.

Do yourself a favor and start cooking the pasta right away before you prep any other ingredients. If you can get your pasta water boiling before you start gathering your ingredients, you will be ready to roll with the broccoli right when the pasta is done, making this a 26 minute recipe.

front view of a bowl of pasta shells with broccoli garnished with red pepper flakes and freshly grated parmesan cheese

Other Great Vegetarian Dinners

If you are eating less meat these days or if you are cooking for someone who is eating vegetarian, here are a few other great ideas:

My Black Bean Tacos are my favorite. They are so simple but absolutely delicious.

Even your meat eaters won’t miss the meat with this Southwestern Mac and Cheese. It’s total delicious comfort food.

My Greek Quinoa Salad makes a filling dinner and even better left overs.

If you make this Broccoli Pasta and love it, come back and let me know! And if you make any of my other recipes, I’d love to hear what you think.

close up overhead view of broccoli pasta recipe made with shells, broccoli florets, red pepper flakes and freshly grated parmesan cheese
4.75 from 4 votes

Broccoli Pasta

Serves: 4 servings
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 21 minutes
Total: 26 minutes
This Broccoli Pasta is a simple go to weeknight dinner that kids and adults can both agree on. It will become a regular in your dinner rotation.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound pasta shells cooked according to package instructions, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water before draining
  • 1 pound broccoli (3 small heads or 4 cups florets) cut into small florets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese plus more for topping

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package, reserving 1/4 cup of cooking water before draining.
  • While the water is coming to a boil, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Cut the broccoli, mince the garlic, and shred the cheese.
  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté for 30 seconds until the garlic is fragrant, being careful not to burn it.
  • Add the broccoli, pasta water, and a teaspoon of salt. Cook until the broccoli is tender, about 4 minutes.
  • Toss with the cooked pasta. Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Serving: 1.75cups Calories: 340kcal (17%) Carbohydrates: 50g (17%) Protein: 14g (28%) Fat: 11g (17%) Saturated Fat: 1g (6%) Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g Monounsaturated Fat: 5g Sodium: 318mg (14%) Potassium: 364mg (10%) Fiber: 5g (21%) Sugar: 4g (4%)
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian

Video

close up overhead view of broccoli pasta recipe made with shells, broccoli florets, red pepper flakes and freshly grated parmesan cheese

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Broccoli Pasta

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Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

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  1. Gael MacGregor says

    4 stars
    Hubby doesn’t like broccoli so I made this with zucchini instead. I also doubled the garlic (we’re Italian 😆).

    • Lisa Longley says

      Zucchini is a great substitution!

    • Doug says

      I make something very similar. I use butter instead of olive oil, and at the end just before serving I throw in halved grape tomatoes. This is a real comfort food.

      • Lisa Longley says

        LOVE the idea of the tomato at the end.

    • Catherine Dickey says

      What amount off Zucchini did you use?

  2. Joan Damore says

    So quick and easy looks yummy 😋

  3. Kelly Rader says

    Can you use frozen broccoli?

    • Lisa Longley says

      I think it would add too much liquid to the dish, but you could give it a try!

  4. Janice says

    5 stars
    Omg I didn’t think anything so simple could be so good! I used trumpet pasta. Will not shrimp
    On garlic next time. Thank you!

    • Janice says

      Oops skimp

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so happy that you liked it!

  5. Leila says

    I made it with gluten free barilla pasta and it was good. Simple but goof.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so happy you liked it Leila!

  6. MrsSW says

    Lisa – with so little liquid isn’t the dish dry?
    Thanks,
    Sheila

    • Lisa Longley says

      Nope! It’s delicious as is.

  7. Linda says

    5 stars
    Just now made this dish, only difference is I added beef slices as my son likes it. The smell while cooking got his tastes buds watering. Thank you

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad your family liked it Linda!

  8. Darleen Kerr says

    It doesn’t say anywhere in the recipe if this is a hot dish or served cold. I would love to try this.

    • Lisa Longley says

      This is served hot. You can assume with my recipes that if it is made on the stove or oven it will be served hot unless there is a step that tells you to chill it. I hope you enjoy this!

  9. Marie Cash says

    I bet frozen broccoli would work. Cook the broccoli with the pasta then add to the garlic. It’s all about the timing. Thanks for this recipe!

  10. karen down says

    Do you have any Gluten Free recipes

    • Lisa Longley says

      Hi Karen! I don’t do a lot of gluten free cooking, though I have some recipes that are accidentally gluten free, like my Roast Chicken or my Taco Stuffed Sweet Potatoes. My friend Erin has a number of recipes that are gluten free, check her out at her site Well Plated.

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