Authentic Broccoli Pasta from Italy! A simple, delicious vegetarian recipe for Orecchiette with Broccoli Sauce – full of flavor and nutrients! Video. See our 20+ BEST Broccoli Recipes!

Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Sauce - a simple vegetarian pasta dish hailing from Tuscany that is easy to make, healthy and oh so delicious!| #Orecchiette #broccolipasta #orechiettepasta #broccolirecipes #vegetarian #pastarecipes #healthypastarecipes |www.feastingathome.com #feastingathome

We rise by lifting others.

R. Ingersoll 

After taking a week-long cooking class in Italy, my friend Mark brought back this traditional Tuscan recipe and made it for his wife. Truth be told when my friend Sonna first described it to me- how the broccoli was cooked down for a long time, 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 became once it cooked down for a while, and the way the orecchiette pasta cradled it so lovingly, my interest was piqued. So this became our dinner last night, and I must say,  it was delicious! And a whole lot of broccoli went into this!

Here is another delicious pasta dish you may love as mush as we do, Pasta Primavera!

Broccoli Pasta | 60-sec Video

Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Sauce - a simple vegetarian pasta dish hailing from Tuscany that is easy to make, healthy and oh so delicious!| #Orecchiette #broccolipasta #orechiettepasta #broccolirecipes #vegetarian #pastarecipes #healthypastarecipes |www.feastingathome.com #feastingathome

ORECCHIETTE WITH BROCCOLI Ingredient Notes

  • Orecchiette pasta- translates to “little ear”.  An ear-shaped pasta that literally cradles the sauce. Feel free to use other pasta shapes.
  • Chili flakes – for a milder flavor try Aleppo or Urfa Biber.
  •  Anchovy paste- for a vegan option, sub miso paste (or sub 1-2 mashed whole anchovies)
  •  Veggie broth or chicken broth
  •  Freshly grated pecorino cheese– freshly grated is BEST here as pre-grated often has caking agents that prevent the sauce from getting creamy.
  • Optional Garnishes: truffle oil, fresh basil ribbons, toasted pine nuts, toasted bread crumbs, or olives.

See the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.     

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • It is packed with nutrition! Lots of broccoli in the sauce along with garlic, lemon and chili flakes. Good clean ingredients!
  • Easy to make! Steam broccoli, sauté aromatics, combine (blend if a smooth sauce is desired), serve over cooked pasta with pecorio.
  • Tasty and Creamy! It has a velvety mouth feel without tons of added fat. Kids like this sauce too!

How to make Broccoli Pasta

Step one: Steam the broccoli, cook the pasta, and save the hot, salted pasta water.

TIP: Throw the broccoli in a strainer in the boiling pasta water to save time and the extra pot.

I used a whole 12-ounce bag of broccoli florets ( about 6 cups, packed)  cut into smaller pieces and then steamed until tender.

Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Sauce - a simple vegetarian pasta dish hailing from Tuscany that is easy to make, healthy and oh so delicious!| #Orecchiette #broccolipasta #orechiettepasta #broccolirecipes #vegetarian #pastarecipes #healthypastarecipes |www.feastingathome.com

Step two: Saute garlic, chili flakes and shallots, in olive oil , when fragrant, add the steamed broccoli and veggie broth, cooking until it falls apart, melts, and cooks down into a sauce (you can help break it apart with a metal spatula).

Take your time here, so the sauce is not grainy, you want the broccoli really soft.

TIP: If the color bothers you blend a cup of the cooked broccoli with a little broth, a splash of olive oil and a handful or two of baby spinach- and stir back into sauce-  to brighten this up. Not traditional but does add vibrance.

Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Sauce - a simple vegetarian pasta dish hailing from Tuscany that is easy to make, healthy and oh so delicious!| #Orecchiette #broccolipasta #orechiettepasta #broccolirecipes #vegetarian #pastarecipes #healthypastarecipes |www.feastingathome.com

Step Three: Create depth.

Stir in pecorino cheese, a little anchovie paste if you like, or even miso paste.  Add lemon zest. Taste, adjust salt and pepper and get the sauce to taste how you like, loosening the sauce with hot pasta water.

For a smoother sauce, feel free to use your immersion blender here, right in the pan.

Step Four: Add the cooked pasta and again taste for salt.  Add a little warm pasta water if you like it looser or saucier.

Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Sauce - a simple Italian vegetarian pasta that is full of flavor and nutrients! | www.feastingathome.com

Step Five: Garnish with lots of chili flakes, lemon zest and more grated pecorino cheese.

Serve it up in your favorite pasta bowl.

Orecchiette Broccoli FAQS

What is broccoli sauce made of?

Broccoli that has been steamed and blended (optional) with broth, garlic, lemon zest and chili flakes.

Why is this pasta called orecchiette?

Orecchiette translates to “little ear”.  An ear-shaped pasta that literally cradles the sauce.

What flavors go good with pasta and broccoli?

Lemon, pecorino and parmesan cheese, pine nuts, walnuts, garlic, onion, shallots, basil, bread crumbs, and olives.

What to Serve With Orecchiette Broccoli

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!

More Recipes You May Like

xoxo

Sylvia

Love this recipe? Please let us know in the comments and leave a 5-star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating below the recipe card.

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Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Sauce - a simple Italian vegetarian pasta that is full of flavor and nutrients! | www.feastingathome.com

Orecchiette with Broccoli

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.6 from 121 reviews
  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 25
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: vegetarian main
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Orecchiette Broccoli Sauce – a simple vegetarian pasta dish hailing from Tuscany that is easy to make, healthy and oh so delicious!


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 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 anchovy paste)
  • 2 cups veggie broth or chicken broth
  • 12 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/41/2 cup fresh grated pecorino cheese ( please see notes) or fresh parmesan
  • Optional Garnish: pecorino cheese, lemon zest, truffle oil, fresh basil ribbons, toasted pine nuts, toasted bread crumbs, capers, truffle oil or kalamata olives– all optional.

Instructions

  1. Steam small broccoli florets until very tender (easily pierced with a fork) then chop and set aside.
  2. Cook the pasta in 8 cups water with 1 tablespoon salt (measure),  Save a cup of hot pasta water when you drain.
  3. 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.
  4. Bring to a gentle simmer and break apart the broccoli with a metal spatula into tiny pieces. As it cooks and softens it will get easier to break apart. You want the broccoli to melt down into a “sauce ” – take your time here, adding more liquid as needed.
  5. Stir in 1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese. Continue simmering gently on low heat until half of the liquid evaporates and it becomes the consistency of a thick sauce, about 10 minutes. 
  6. At this point, if you like a smoother sauce, feel free to use an immersion blender right in the pan. I did not use one for these photos- but it is an option. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste- you want it on the slightly salty side.
  7. Add the pasta. Toss well. Add more hot pasta water to keep it ” saucy.”   Taste once more 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 more pecorino if you like. 
  8. Divide among pasta bowls and top with any of the garnishes you like!

Notes

Always USE freshly grated cheese. Pre-shredded pecorino or parmesan often have “caking agents” in them-  that prevent cheese from fully incorporating into a sauce- resulting in unpleasant clumping. The cheese should just melt into the sauce. Always check the label.- some stores offer grated pecorino that they grate on-site without these caking agents.

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’.;)

TIP: If the color bothers you, blend a cup of the cooked broccoli with a little broth, a splash of olive oil and a handful or two of baby spinach- and stir back into sauce-  to brighten this up. Not traditional but does add vibrance.

Nutrition

  • 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
Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Sauce - a simple vegetarian Pasta dish hailing from Tuscany. #Orecchiette | www.feastingathome.com

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Comments

  1. I’m sorry, but cooking broccoli this long turned it greyish-dull green, certianly not like the bright green color of your photo. The vegetable broth did not help, and the dish’s taste, with the miso, was rather “dark”. Also, the red pepper flakes truly did not compliment the collection of flavors.






  2. Oh My…. I didn’t have enough broccoli so substituted half with zucchini, fresh out of the garden. I live on a low histamine diet and this is an amazing add to my diet.






  3. Really, really good! I love the simplicity of it all and the clean flavours. The toasted pine nuts added a nice dimension.






  4. I’ve made this recipe several times, and it’s absolutely one of our go-to’s. My whole family loves it, including all three kids. I’ve changed it up a little bit sometimes and puréed it all the way down to a smoothe sauce and other times left the sauce very hearty. I’ve used fresh broccoli and at times when I was in a hurry, I’ve use chopped frozen broccoli. Both work beautifully. It’s still a hit every time. I just have one question: I have not figured out how to get the broccoli to cook all the way down to very tender without losing the bright green color in the photo. Any tricks I’m missing?






    1. No, I think that it when it gets silkly smooth, the color is less vibrant unfortunatly.

  5. This is my first try at making this dish…… Also my first day of trying to go onto a vegetarian diet….**🥶🥩sweat***
    All i have to say is “i quite very much, deliciously, tastily look forward to where this new journey will take me






  6. Great recipe! Easy, tasty, quick! I love it. Comes with a story.
    I don’t use anchovies. I find them a bit strong. Still great taste.
    My only doubt is how can you feed 4 people with 227g of pasta.
    It leads to the confusion with consumed calories.:(






  7. When I studied abroad in Tuscany 20 years ago, the cooks at the school would make this pasta and I loved it. They always warned it was not vegetarian. I never knew why until I bought an Italian recipe magazine that included this recipe. It was the anchovies. Too scared to try it with them, I left them out. The pasta was bad. Seeing this recipe again (20 years later) in English (and knowing it is a traditional Italian recipe) has convinced me I need to try it again. This time, WITH the anchovies. They are on my shopping list. Looking forward to trying this again. Thanks for posting this!

  8. Dude… I made this and it was amazing. Cooked the broccoli in the sauce instead of steaming ahead of time and added a small hit of cashew cream… amazing. Thanks for the excellent recipe!






  9. Hi Slyvia, I absolutely love this recipe and have made it several times. If I wanted to cook a big batch how would you recommend storing? Mix in pasta then keep in the fridge/freezer or just keep sauce? Thanks

  10. Turned out really well. I added ground pork to it and a little whole milk at the end to make it creamy. Great way to “bury” some broccoli in dinner. It is impossible to pick it out!. My 11 year-old son loved it.






  11. Thank you, finally someone who has recipes for us who are trying to eat more plant based meals. So many of the Vegetarian recipes are to over board with items that the rest of us are not familiar with and we don’t want to spend a lot of money buying if we aren’t going to like it. Additionally someone who posts the nutritional values, with so many people on diets I think that it is adding to the problem because many people have no ideal how many calories are in a recipe. I saw a recipe the other day that looked healthy and sounded good but it had over 800 calories in a serving and this wasn’t a Keto recipes. Love your site






  12. I love this recipe, great for meal prep for work. I stir in baby spinach and green peas at the end , the peas give it a pop of flavour. Make this every month in big batches. Thank you !






  13. is the broccoli supposed to lose all its color by the end of the process? if not then how on earth do you manage to keep it vibrant green?!

  14. My kid loves this recipe (though i leave out the lemon for her) and is a great way to get her to eat healthy. She regularly asks for seconds and thirds!

    I’m surprised to see so much fat listed in the nutritional info – where is it coming from?






  15. I’m not sure? My friend learned how to make this at a cooking school in Tuscany near Florence. Maybe the instructor was from Puglia?

    1. Orechiette is definitely from Puglia 🙂 It’s traditional there and extremely popular. I ate this dish several times when visiting Puglia this year.

  16. Wow! This was a very delicious pasta!
    I had added edamame to my spinach linguine, and it tasted really yummy.
    Thank you very much for sharing this good recipe. Appreciate it!

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