Penne Broccoli is an easy and healthier Mediterranean recipe that uses just 7 ingredients and tastes absolutely delicious! You wont believe how good a simple broccoli recipe can taste and the best part? It's stupidly quick! Pasta, broccoli and sautéed garlic in extra virgin olive oil, a hint of chili and cheese is optional.
Here I am sharing variations of the recipe so the photos do appear different. Its the same recipe just different methods on different days.
This is an old favorite in our house, definitely older than we are 🙂 My husband's favorite dish that he grew up eating and taught me how to make and each time, we contine to be blown away by the easy and quick method!
First things first, you need the key ingredient, BROCCOLI! We use one head of broccoli for two to three people.
Confession time, we've now eaten broccoli pasta two days in a row. It's always wonderful to see how much this dish is enjoyed!
Why You Will Love This Recipe!
♡ Left Overs: Just like macaroni pasta it makes the best left overs!
♡ Convenient: It can be served hot or cold and still tastes delicious so it's perfect for a packed lunch! Yes it's over the charts delicious when warm but it can also be eaten cold.
♡ Super Simple: It's so easy and so quick, and if you want to use less oil, you can, simply add pasta water or broccoli water for a more creamy effect.
This recipe is as they say the 'bees knees' for all the right reasons!
Ingredients For Penne Broccoli
Parmesan cheese is a great option but Pecorini cheese (from the sheep and not the cow) is the one most used on pasta broccoli.
What's not in the photo below? Pasta water and salt and pepper seasoning. The full recipe card is below.
Pasta I used penne and orecchiette but you can use any pasta type here.
Broccoli Generally one broccoli head is enough for 2 people depending on how hungry you are. Fresh broccoli of course, that goes without saying! Can you use frozen broccoli? I'm sure you can but I have no idea if this will compromise on the taste.
Calabrese spice We add a little Calabrian flare which you can found here. Or you can use fresh chili or a tiny sprinkle of chili flakes.
Garlic (one per person so we are using two in this recipe but you can use more if you like)
Olive oil Use extra virgin olive oil.
Salt and pepper Use fresh black pepper and sea salt if possible. We use this salt and pepper blend that's irreplaceable once you have it!
Cheese Pecorino cheese is what's used in this recipe but you can use Parmesan cheese too.
Pasta water and/or broccoli water Essential to create a creamy texture and to help avoid the garlic from burning.
How To Make Penne Broccoli
Here is a step by step method with photos to show you how easy it is to make this for dinner tonight!
Pasta: Cook the pasta first. The rest of this recipe goes very quick!
You can cook the pasta one of two ways:
- In a pot of boiling salted water OR
- Cook the broccoli first and then use the same water and pot to cook the pasta in.
They both work it's just having options.
Prep the broccoli: Clean the broccoli by removing any rough part of the stems. There is no need to cut them all off.
Cook the broccoli: Rinse and steam the broccoli. Steaming in the microwave in a microwave dish is another quick way to cook the broccoli.
You can boil it if you like (as explained above). Scoop it out, set it aside and then cook the pasta.
My Tip: Have a bowl with ice and ice water ready so that you can scoop the broccoli out from cooking into the 'ice bath' to help it stop cooking immediately. Its a matter of cooking it briefly and dipping it into the ice bath and back into the colander to sit.
It helps retain the bright green color too. We use a sift or colander and only use this method if we are cooking the broccoli first.
Cooking the pasta in a different pot and steaming the broccoli doesn't need the ice bath step.
Now that you've cooked your pasta and broccoli in one of two ways, let's cook the flavor profile.
What does aromatics mean?
Aromatics can be anything from vegetables mainly onions, celery and carrots to garlic, ginger, herbs and an array of spices. These are normally cooked in oil, butter or both at the beginning of cooking.
Garlic Heat the olive oil on low to medium heat and add the garlic. Cook while stirring to prevent the garlic from burning and add the spice almost immediately.
At this point, you can take a small scoop of the pasta water (or broccoli water) and carefully add it to the garlic sauteeing in oil. This will prevent the garlic from burning.
Add the pasta As the pasta reaches its cooked stage (al dente) start to transfer it all into the This recipe used less than ¼ cup of water to help prevent the pasta and broccoli from burning.
Too much water can make a soggy pasta and thats the opposite to this delicious creamy pasta!
How To Serve Penne Broccoli
As a main dish, you would need more broccoli to make the meal more satisfying for a larger family. However, don't forget that you can also add steak or chicken to this penne broccoli for another great serve.
For our family this penna broccoli is a main meal served with nothing else except a sprinkle more of the ingredients - Calabrese spice, olive oil and Pecorino cheese.
My Tips For Penne Broccoli
Cooking The Pasta
Try to cook the pasta until a minute or so before it's done as in 'al dente' which is 'to the tooth' it should still have some bite in. Overcooked pasta will make the entire recipe mushy which is the direct opposite to what we are after here.
Save The Pasta or Broccoli Water
Reserving some of the water always helps in creating a little (or a lot) of creamy texture without over-loading the recipe in cream or oil. Keep a little in a container in the fridge for tomorrows left-overs when you need to reheat!
The best way to preserve the nutrients in vegetables is to cook them by either roasting or steaming. Much of the nutrients are lost when you boil vegetables so my advice is not boil for longer than 4 to 5 minutes.
Dry Penne Broccoli
If you use too much pasta and too little broccoli you may end up with dry pasta because the pasta will absorb all the liquid. This is why pasta water is essential. You can also fix dry pasta by adding regulars water, stock, cream
Cooking Pasta and Broccoli in One Pot
Cooking the pasta in the same water that cooked the broccoli does cuts down the time a little if you're in a rush.
What type of pasta to use for pasta broccoli
You can use any pasta for this recipe. Our go to for pasta broccoli is penne and orriechette.
What if I don't have Calabrese spice?
The authentic recipe (region dependent) uses dried chili flakes. (Hanging the chillies to dry to use in winter is a normal for most Italians).
Is there a variation to this Broccoli Penne Recipe?
Yes! You can add fresh chillies, garlic, anchovies and broccoli with pasta.
More Delicious Pasta Recipes
- Easy orecchiette pasta
- Pasta Ziti Al Tonno Calabrese
- Creamy Mushroom Pasta
- Cajun Chicken Pasta
- Creamy Salmon Pasta
- Anchovy Pasta
- Fusilli Alfredo Pasta
RATE AND COMMENT: If you enjoyed reading this recipe with all the tips and suggestions or have tried my recipe, please do let me know. Leave a comment and rating below.
- 2 ½ cups Pasta
- 250 grams Broccoli
- 2 Cloves fresh garlic
- 3 tbsps Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Calabrese spice
- ½ teaspoon Salt and pepper seasoning
- ½ cup Pecorino cheese or Parmesan
- Pasta: Cook the pasta according to packet instructions in boiling salted water.
- Clean the broccoli: Cut the florets off the stem and cut them into smaller broccoli florets maintaining the shape. Chop the stems into small pieces.
- Prep the garlic: Thinly slice or chop the garlic.
- Cook the broccoli: Heat the oil in a non stick pan on low to medium heat and add the garlic. Stir, cooking for 20 to 30 seconds. Add the Calabrese spice and mix for 10 seconds.
- Transfer the pasta (as it's almost done cooking) to the pan along with the pasta water which you add in two parts and mix in between.
- Remove from the heat, add the cheese, and extract drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a tiny sprinkle of Calabrese spice and serve