Light and Flavorful Broccoli Pasta

LAST UPDATED: Mar 25, 2020 | PUBLISHED: Mar 19, 2020 | By: Julie Blanner

This amazing Broccoli Pasta is a one-pot wonder made with just 6 ingredients in minutes! Use staples, fresh or frozen ingredients to whip up this delicious dish.

A white plate full of broccoli pasta, blue linen napkin behind

Now that I’m balancing homeschooling and work, quick, easy and flavorful dinners have become essential! Especially when they require just a few staple ingredients.

In these uncertain times we have been embracing change by slowing down, which means we have more time to cook together! This simple pasta dish comes together quickly, which works well for the girls’ attention spans. It takes less than 15 minutes from start to finish!

I love sharing this kind of simple recipe with you, and now more than ever I know that we all want simple, comforting food. Check out this bucatini with Amatriciana sauce, cheesy Mexican spaghetti and our family-favorite fettuccine alfredo if you’re looking for more delicious ideas. And if you’re in need of true pantry staple recipes, check out this list of 10 great recipes for inspiration!

A white plate full of cheesy broccoli pasta, blue linen napkin behind.

You can make it with my fresh homemade pasta or your favorite box pasta. It’s very adaptable – make it fresh or put it together with staples and frozen veggies. 

Either way, it’s easy and full of flavor. Even better, it’s a one dish wonder, minimizing cleanup. While I love to cook and spend time in the kitchen, I’d prefer to leave the cleanup to anyone else!

We enjoy it for lunch and dinner, but it also makes an incredible side dish. It’s light, tasty and so easy to make – with that in mind, this is a great dish for your tweens and teens to learn to make at home! This is a good opportunity to teach them a few kitchen tricks that will open their eyes to cooking methods and techniques, and new flavors.

Close up of broccoli pasta dinner

The Secret is in the Broccoli Sauce

I like to cook the broccoli with the pasta. This not only simplifies the dish making it quick and easy to make, but it also eliminates the need for another pan.

The broccoli flavor cooks into the pasta. The broccoli becomes incredibly tender, breaking it up so it covers the pasta and you get to enjoy it in every last bite!

This dish is a great way to sneak in greens. At under 500 calories for a dinner sized portion, it’s guiltless, too!

A white plate filled with broccoli sauce and pasta, gold fork to the side

Broccoli Pasta Ingredients

  • Broccoli – While fresh always has the best flavor, you can use frozen. I use 12 ounces, but the more, the merrier!
  • Pasta – I like using a short noodle for this dish, but you can use your favorite noodle. You can substitute with homemade egg noodles or gluten free if you prefer.
  • Lemon Zest – Don’t have a lemon? No problem. In a pinch you can add an additional tablespoon of lemon juice or eliminate all together.
  • Lemon Juice – Fresh squeeze or store bought in a bottle found in the produce or juice aisle.
  • Olive Oil – Extra Virgin or regular, it adds flavor and coats the noodles to make a delicious broccoli sauce.
  • Garlic – I like to use minced garlic purchased in a jar in the produce section of the grocery store because I always have it on hand and it makes an easy shortcut, but you can also use fresh minced garlic.
  • Red Pepper – Red pepper flakes add a hint of colorful and robust flavor to this simple dish.
  • Parmesan – Completely optional, but is it really pasta without parmesan? I didn’t think so. Garnish with fresh grated parmesan, pecorino or asiago, whatever you have on hand. Gruyere and mozzarella also work well. You can even use pre-grated in a pinch.
A white surface with ingredients for broccoli pasta

How to Make Broccoli Pasta

  1. Cook Pasta and Broccoli – Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add add the broccoli florets and pasta. a pot on a stove top filled with water and broccoli
  2. Make the Broccoli Sauce – In a bowl or a jar, combine zest, juice, olive oil, garlic and red pepper. Shake or whisk until well combined. A white surface with a glass bowl full of broccoli sauce
  3. Combine – Once pasta is al dente, drain pasta and return cooked pasta to pot (without heat) and stir in sauce. a silver pot filled with homemade broccoli pasta
  4. Garnish with parmesan cheese (optional, but who can resist), salt and pepper to taste.A white plate filled with broccoli pasta, blue napkin behind.

Tips

  • Want protein? Add this amazing baked chicken breast.
  • Too tart? Add a hint of sugar or reduce the amount of lemon juice.
  • Make it cheesy – add the cheese into the sauce. Shake with other ingredients and toss!
Close up of cheesy broccoli sauce with pasta

Store

Broccoli Pasta keeps well stored in an airtight container up to 3 days refrigerated. Warm on the stovetop or in the oven with a tablespoon of olive oil and lemon juice to refresh the sauce.

A white plate filled with pasta in a broccoli sauce, gold fork to the side

What to Serve it With

Serving as a side dish? Pasta with Broccoli Sauce pairs well with so many entrees!

A white plate filled with broccoli pasta, blue napkin behind.

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A white plate full of broccoli pasta, gold fork to the side

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A white plate filled with broccoli pasta, blue napkin behind.

Broccoli Pasta

Quick, easy and flavorful Broccoli Pasta in a light broccoli sauce. Make this delicious dinner or side dish with staples, fresh or frozen ingredients! Whatever you have on hand!
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Course: Entree
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings (hover to scale): 4
Calories: 478kcal

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces pasta
  • 12 ounces broccoli about 2 broccoli heads
  • 1 small lemon zested
  • 3 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • parmesan to garnish

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and broccoli.
  • In a bowl or a jar, combine zest, juice, olive oil, garlic and red pepper. Shake or whisk until well combined.
  • Drain pasta and return to pot (without heat) and stir in sauce.
  • Garnish with parmesan, salt and pepper to taste.

Notes

Substitutions and Variations

Broccoli – While fresh always has the best flavor, you can use frozen. I use 12 ounces, but the more, the merrier!
Pasta – I like using a short noodle for this dish, but you can use your favorite noodle. You can substitute with homemade egg noodles or gluten free if you prefer.
Lemon Zest – No lemon, no problem. Add an additional tablespoon of lemon juice or eliminate all together.
Lemon Juice – Fresh squeeze or store bought in a bottle found in the produce or juice aisle. 1 lemon = about 2 tablespoons lemon juice.
Olive Oil – You can substitute olive oil with butter, if needed.
Garlic – I like to use minced garlic purchased in a jar in the produce section of the grocery store because I always have it on hand and it makes an easy shortcut, but you can also use fresh minced garlic.
Parmesan – Garnish with fresh grated parmesan, pecorino or asiago, gruyere, mozzarella or pre-grated parmesan.
Sugar – Too tangy for your taste? Add 2 teaspoons sugar.
Add Protein – Shrimp and Baked Chicken are a delicious addition to this dish.
Make it Cheesy – add the cheese into the sauce. Shake with other ingredients and toss!
Scale this recipe using the slider in the recipe card.

Nutrition

Calories: 478kcal | Carbohydrates: 73g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 39mg | Potassium: 507mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 604IU | Vitamin C: 95mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 2mg
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