Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Sauce – a simple vegetarian pasta dish hailing from Tuscany that is easy to make, healthy and oh so delicious!
Steam small broccoli florets until very tender ( easily pierced with a fork) and set aside.
Cook pasta according to directions, and save some hot pasta water when you drain.
In a large pan, saute the garlic and chili flakes in the olive oil, over medium heat until fragrant and golden, about 2-3 minutes. Add the steamed broccoli, optional anchovy, salt, pepper and broth. Bring to a gentle simmer and start breaking apart the broccoli with a metal spatula into tiny pieces. 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 consisancy of a thick sauce, about 10-15 minutes. It won’t be smooth-just broken down and tender. Stir in the parmesan just a little at a time. Only adding enough to taste. If it gets too thick, add a little pasta water.
Once the cheese is melted and incorporated, add the pasta. Toss well. Add more pasta water if you want it a little more saucy. Taste for salt, adding more along with pepper and the chili flakes.
Divide among bowls and top with any of the garnishes you like. Lemon zest adds a nice brightness, which I highly recommend. 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’.;)
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