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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

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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.

Reader Interactions


    Have a question? Use the form below to submit your question or comment. I love hearing from you & seeing what you made!

    Rate This Recipe:

  1. lavonn lee hairston says

    5 stars
    wow, thank you this was amazing recipe going to make it tonight.

  2. Catherine says

    Can you use other types of Pasta if you don’t have the SHELLS?

    • Lisa Longley says

      You sure can! Use whatever medium sized pasta you would like.

  3. Dottie says

    I am trying this one next. Love your recipes!!!
    ❤❤❤ 🙃

    • Lisa Longley says

      I hope you enjoy it!

  4. Gail Needham says

    Love your recipes! Can’t wait to try them. Thanks

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad to hear that, Gail!

  5. Vicky N says

    Thanks for the recipes.

    • Lisa Longley says

      You’re welcome!

  6. María says

    5 stars
    Thank you for sharing your dad’s delicious pasta!!!

    • Lisa Longley says

      You are very welcome!

  7. Doreen says

    Could you make this before hand and then microwave to heat it up. Talking about broccoli pasta salad

    • Lisa Longley says

      It’s not really a pasta salad, its more of a pasta dish that is meant to be warm. It can be reheated, but like most pasta dishes, won’t be quite as good as it would be fresh.

  8. Linda says

    Can you add chicken? Should I cook it ahead of time or cook it with the broccoli?

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m sorry, Linda. I haven’t made this with chicken. If I were going to make it with chicken, I probably would add it right after the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook it before adding in the broccoli.

  9. Mary Lukowski says

    5 stars
    I didn’t have shredded Parmesan. Forgot to buy to it. Only grated. So I kept searching. My daughter is a cheese fan. And not the ordinary cheese. She brought some back from Italy. I smelled it. And it was a hard cheese. With a little seasoning. I used that. Omg. What a wonderful dish. Yummmmy.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  10. Lupe says

    I made your vegarian pasta broccoli. I made 2 of them for my daughter & her fam. Also for my daughter In Law. They really loved it. Instead of putting garlic in oil. I had another dish where I had olive oil and added garlic cloves and cooked to garlic was golden brown. That’s what I added to it at behaving. They luvd it. Ty

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

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5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners