clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Sauce - a simple Italian vegetarian pasta that is full of flavor and nutrients! |

Orecchiette with Broccoli

  • 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


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


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.


  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!


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.


  • 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

Keywords: broccoli pasta recipe, Orecchiette Pasta, Orecchiette, broccoli pasta, broccoli pasta recipes, orecchiette pasta recipe, broccoli recipes, vegetarian pasta recipes, healthy pasta recipes, vegetarian broccoli pasta