This quick and tasty recipe is a great way to eat your veggies
Love pasta, but need more veggies? We have just the dish.
This recipe is light on the pasta, heavy on broccoli. It’s sauced with a dollop of olive oil (but includes plenty of garlic for flavor).
Pasta with Broccoli and Garlic is easy and fast, so it’s great for quick weeknight dinners. It’s even tasty enough for weekend company.
So take a walk on the light side.
Recipe: Pasta with Broccoli and Garlic
Exact quantities aren’t critical for this recipe, so you can vary ingredient amounts to taste. We like to use about 2 ounces of dried pasta and 6 ounces of broccoli per serving. But you can adjust either of those up or down.
We think this dish works best when made with a dried pasta shape that catches some sauce. We like to make it with conchiglie (shells). But orecchiette, penne, or farfalle all work well.
This recipe takes about 20 minutes to make and serves two. It can easily be doubled.
- ~12 ounces broccoli florets (you may want a bit less; see headnote)
- 3 to 4 garlic cloves (to taste)
- salt to taste (see Notes)
- 4 ounces dried pasta (see headnote)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese for garnish (optional)
- Place a large pot of water on to boil (use a cooking pot that holds at least 4 quarts).
- Wash the broccoli, then cut it into florets of about ½ inch (reserve the stalks for another use). Set aside.
- Peel the garlic and slice it thinly or mince it. Set aside.
- When water boils, add salt to taste (about 1 tablespoon per 4 quarts of water). Add the chopped broccoli. Cook it for 3 minutes to blanch. When the broccoli is done, remove it with a slotted spoon or a spider strainer, then pour it into a colander or wire strainer to drain. Add the pasta to the cooking water. Cook the pasta according to package directions until it’s just barely al dente.
- Meanwhile, place a large frying pan on medium stovetop heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the chopped garlic and reduce the heat to low. Cook the garlic for two minutes (don’t let it brown). Then add the red pepper flakes and cook for 20 seconds. Add the blanched broccoli and cook on low heat until it’s soft and tender.
- When the pasta is done, drain it (reserving ½ cup of cooking liquid). Add the pasta to the frying pan. Toss all the ingredients together until they’re well combined. If you want a more liquidy sauce, add some of the reserved cooking liquid. Taste the mixture, then adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- Plate the pasta and broccoli, garnishing with parmigiano-reggiano cheese if you wish. Serve and enjoy.
- Some cooks like to add a bit of parmigiano-reggiano to the broccoli when they toss it with the pasta (Step 6).
- We sometimes don’t bother blanching the broccoli (Step 4). Instead, we just stir-fry the raw broccoli after we’ve sautéed the garlic and pepper flakes (Step 5). If you go this route, you’ll need to cook the broccoli about 5 minutes – or until it’s as done as you like it (we prefer a bit of bite to ours).
- When we stir-fry the broccoli, we sometimes substitute canned white beans for pasta. We drain and rinse the beans, then add them to the broccoli after we’ve stir-fried it. Then let the beans heat in the pan before serving.
- Not enough pasta in this dish for your taste? Feel free to increase the amount to 3 ounces per serving.
- And you can substitute gluten-free pasta, of course.
- Olive oil is an important component of this dish, so don’t skimp on its quantity or quality. The olive oil gets infused with the flavor of the garlic and red pepper flakes, helping it form a sauce.
- BTW, our version of this dish is very Italian-American. An Italian cook would probably use less garlic – perhaps simmering a whole peeled clove or two in the olive oil for a couple of minutes (Step 5), then removing the garlic when adding the red pepper flakes.
- Don’t like garlic? You can make this dish without it. In that case, you might want to add an anchovy or two to provide depth of flavor. Just sauté the anchovy in olive oil for a couple of minutes. (It will practically dissolve, and you won’t even know it’s there – except for its haunting umami).
- We use kosher salt for cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If you’re using table salt, start with about half as much as we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
- There is a close cousin of this dish that uses broccoli rabe instead of broccoli. That dish often contains Italian sausage and generally features orecchiette (little ears) as the pasta shape of choice.
- We use weight (rather than volume) measures in this recipe. For a dish like this, we just find it easier.
- Speaking of which: Our kitchen scale is probably our most used kitchen tool. We use it multiple times a day.
- If you don’t have a kitchen scale, we urge you to get one. A good digital scale isn’t expensive. It will weigh ingredients both in grams and ounces (plus kilograms and pounds). Look for one that has a “tare” feature – this allows you to add ingredients to the scale, then reset to zero before adding additional ingredients. For example, the tare feature allows you to place a measuring bowl (or other container) on the scale, then reset it back to zero before adding whatever ingredient you want to weigh.
“Bellissima,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Tasty, satisfying, even healthy.”
“It’s really a good recipe,” I said. “Definitely not an impasta.”
“That was tortellini brilliant,” said Mrs K R. “Not.”
“I cannoli agree,” I said.
“The pastabilities for jokes like this are endless,” said Mrs K R. “But we better bring this to a close.”
Right. Pasta la vista, baby.
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