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Broccoli Pasta

4.96 from 41 votes

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


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
4.96 from 41 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.


  • 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


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

did you make this

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.

Reader Interactions


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    Rate This Recipe:

  1. Stephanie says

    4 stars
    Yummy recipe although the proportion of broccoli to pasta is higher than we thought was necessary so we only cooked 1/2 pound of broccoli, which only took 2 minutes. I used 2 pinches of red pepper flakes, added an extra clove of garlic and another tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil immediately after the pasta was drained so it wouldn’t stick together and give it a richer taste. Lastly, we didn’t have parm so we used pecorino Romano cheese. This is definitely comfort food, thanks for the recipe!

  2. Carmen says

    Hi Lisa
    Do you have a recipe for tuna noodle casserole? I love your site. I would like to subscribe to your email and thought I did yesterday but it was cookies…
    Thank you,

    • Lisa Longley says

      Hi Carmen! I can sign you up for my email and then you will just need to confirm. I will sign you up to get a series of emails that comes out every week. If you would like to get a notification of every single post I publish there is a small option for that at the bottom of the weekly email. And yes! Here is my Tuna Casserole. And here is my Skillet Tuna Casserole – a great recipe that you do on your stovetop.

  3. Thiru says

    I happy to showed recipes ,I learning cookery, can you help me madame

    • Lisa Longley says

      Yup! If you have questions, please feel free to email me.

  4. philomela arias says

    very delicious

  5. AMG says

    5 stars
    I make this on the regular. So simple. So good.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so happy you like it!

  6. JoAnn says

    Another variation: cook the broccoli and garlic in olive oil till tender enough to mash with a fork. Add the hot pepper and stir well (creating a broccoli “pesto” sauce). Serve over angel hair pasta (or any pasta you prefer) and pass the grated parm at the table.

  7. Teri Reymann says

    I haven’t got a rating yet because I haven’t made this yet! But I will say it looks yummy delicious!

    My question is can I use frozen broccoli without ruining the recipe?

    Thank you,

    • Lisa Longley says

      Yes! You can, you just might want hold off on adding the starchy pasta water until you see how much moisture comes out of the broccoli.

  8. Diana says

    I used minced garlic out of the refig jars, I get the kind in olive oil and used a full rounded teaspoon and it was good, I think I will add some boiled chopped egg sometime and tuna out of the package

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m glad you liked it!

  9. Denali says

    Is it okay to take your recipe & add other things to it and then leave you a comment?
    I’d like to add chicken or shrimp & change the pasta around I think my son may eat it & varieties of the same dish would help.

    • Lisa Longley says

      You should definitely tweak recipes to fit what your family needs/wants/loves. I love when people leave comments and if they altered the recipe to mention what they changed.

  10. Rose Clews says

    Have made this fudge many times — always comes out perfect! Everyone loves it!!!

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5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners