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

Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Sauce

  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 25
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4
  • Category: vegetarian main
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian


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 12 mashed anchovies)
  • 2 cups veggie broth or chicken broth
  • 12 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.


  1. Steam small broccoli florets until very tender (easily pierced with a fork)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 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.
  5. If it seems watery and separated, just keep cooking it down. It won’t be smooth- but just broken down and very very tender.
  6. Add the pasta. Toss well. Add more hot pasta water to keep it ” saucy.” Add the lemon zest.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Enjoy!


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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