A simple delicious vegetarian recipe for Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Sauce – full of flavor and nutrients!
We rise by lifting others. ― R. Ingersoll
After taking a week-long cooking class in Italy, a friend brought back this traditional Tuscan recipe with him and made it for his wife. Truth be told, when she first described it, how the broccoli was cooked down and melted into a sauce, I had some reservations. The thought of mushy broccoli seemed really off-putting, but as she continued describing how luscious and creamy the broccoli sauce actually became, the way the orecchiette pasta cradled it so perfectly, my interest was piqued.
So this became our dinner last night, and I have to say, it was delicious! And a whole lot of broccoli went into this!
Watch the quick video to see how easy it is!
Ingredients in Broccoli Pasta
- broccoli florets-
- pasta- orecchiette pasta, penne, rigatoni, etc
- olive oil
- shallot, diced
- garlic cloves
- chili flakes ( Aleppo or Urfa Biber is nice here)
- salt and pepper, more to taste
- miso paste (or sub 1-2 mashed anchovies)
- veggie broth or chicken broth
- lemon zest
- Optional Garnishes: grated parmesan or pecorino cheese, lemon zest, truffle oil, fresh basil ribbons, toasted pine nuts, toasted bread crumbs, truffle oil or kalamata olives– all optional.
How to make Broccoli Pasta
Step one: Steam the broccoli, cook the pasta, and save the hot pasta water.
I used a whole 12-ounce bag of broccoli florets ( about 6 cups, packed) cut into smaller pieces and then steamed until tender.
Step two: Saute the cooked broccoli along with garlic, olive oil and veggie broth, until it falls apart, melts, and cooks down into a sauce.
Step Three: Create depth.
If you are not vegetarian, for added depth, try adding a little anchovy paste, starting very light, adding more to taste.
Step Four: Add the cooked pasta and taste for salt. Add a little warm pasta water if you like it looser or saucier.
Step Five: Garnish with lots of chili flakes, lemon zest and grated pecorino cheese.
Orecchiette pasta holds the broccoli sauce like a little scoop.
Serve it up in your favorite pasta bowl.
Sprinkle with parmesan or romano cheese which will add both flavor and depth.
Lemon zest will give this a delicious brightness, and a tiny drizzle of truffle oil will elevate!
Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Sauce should be on your next menu plan- it’s full of great broccoli nutrients and flavor, your kids will love this too!
Other Broccoli Recipes you may like
- Roasted Broccoli Salad
- 15-Minute Broccoli with Garlic, Chili & Lemon Zest
- Creamy Vegan Broccoli Salad
- Pasta with Broccolini, Preserved Lemon and Chickpeas
- Veggie-Driven Pasta Recipes
- Vegan Broccoli & Cheddar Soup
Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Sauce – a simple vegetarian pasta dish hailing from Tuscany that is easy to make, healthy and oh so delicious!
- 12 ounces broccoli florets- cut or broken into very small florets about equal size (about 6 cups packed)
- 8 ounces short pasta- orecchiette pasta, penne, rigatoni, etc
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 fat shallot, diced
- 6 garlic cloves- rough chopped
- generous pinch chili flakes ( Aleppo or Urfa biber is nice here)
- generous pinch salt and pepper, more to taste
- 1 teaspoon miso paste (or sub 1–2 mashed anchovies)
- 2 cups veggie broth or chicken broth
- 1–2 teaspoons lemon zest
- Garnish: grated parmesan or pecorino cheese, lemon zest, truffle oil, fresh basil ribbons, toasted pine nuts, toasted bread crumbs, truffle oil or kalamata olives– all optional.
- Steam small broccoli florets until very tender (easily pierced with a fork)and set aside.
- Cook the pasta in 8 cups water with 1 tablespoon salt (measure), Save a cup of hot pasta water when you drain.
- In a large pan, saute the shallot and garlic and chili flakes in the olive oil, over medium heat until fragrant and golden, about 3 minutes. Stir in the miso paste (or anchovy), then add steamed broccoli, salt, pepper and the broth.
- Bring to a gentle simmer and start breaking apart the broccoli with a metal spatula into tiny pieces. As it cooks it will get easier to break apart. You want the broccoli to basically melt down into a “sauce”. Continue simmering gently on low heat until half of the liquid evaporates and it becomes the consistency of a thick sauce, about 10-15 minutes.
- If it seems watery and separated, just keep cooking it down. It won’t be smooth- but just broken down and very very tender.
- Add the pasta. Toss well. Add more hot pasta water to keep it ” saucy.” Add the lemon zest.
- Taste for salt, adjust, adding more along with pepper, chili flakes. If you want more richness add another splash of olive oil (or pat of butter- my husband loves this). Stir in some optional pecorino.
- Divide among pasta bowls and top with any of the garnishes you like. Grated Parmesan or pecorino adds depth,basil ribbons add flavor, and a drizzle of truffle oil elevates.
Sometimes I’ll halve the pasta (if cooking for two) and make this with the same amount of broccoli sauce, boosting the broccoli part. Just sayin’.;)
- Serving Size: with the addition of ¾ cup parmesan
- Calories: 351
- Sugar: 3.2 g
- Sodium: 518.3 mg
- Fat: 12.7 g
- Saturated Fat: 3.6 g
- Carbohydrates: 49.2 g
- Fiber: 7.5 g
- Protein: 15.6 g
- Cholesterol: 9.7 mg
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