Orecchiette 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 anchovy paste)
- 2 cups veggie broth or chicken broth
- 1–2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1/4– 1/2 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.
- Steam small broccoli florets until very tender (easily pierced with a fork) then chop 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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