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Broccoli Pasta in a white bowl on a wood board on a cream surface surrounded by a dishcloth, white wine, a fork and grated cheese.

Italian Broccoli Pasta

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5 from 6 reviews

  • Author: Sabrina Russo
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian


This Italian Broccoli Pasta is an authentic dish from my Sicilian grandmother. It’s a quick and easy recipe, perfect for any weeknight.


  • 1lb broccoli (about 2 small heads)
  • 1lb rigatoni pasta (or pasta of choice)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pinches hot red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup (2oz) pecorino romano cheese, finely grated
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper


  1. Boil water. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Prep vegetables. While water heats up, cut head of broccoli into large florets. Remove the tough outer layer of the stem and cut into 1-inch chunks. Mince garlic.
  3. Boil and chop broccoli. Cook broccoli in boiling water for 5-7 minutes, until fork tender. Remove with a slotted spoon, reserving water in pot. Chop broccoli into 1/2 inch or smaller pieces.
  4. Boil pasta. Bring pot of water back to a boil. Season generously with salt. Add pasta and cook until 1-2 minutes short of al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water. Drain pasta.
  5. Cook broccoli sauce. While pasta cooks, place olive oil, garlic and red pepper into a large, room temperature sauté pan. Turn heat to medium. Once garlic sizzles for a few seconds, stir in the chopped broccoli. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of pasta water. Bring to a boil. Allow to simmer for about 3-5 minutes so broccoli further softens and breaks down. This pasta is best with very soft broccoli (even softer and more broken down than in my photos is great).
  6. Finish pasta. Add cooked pasta to broccoli sauce. Toss to combine. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Taste for seasoning. Add more pasta water to loosen sauce, if needed. Serve topped with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and cracked black pepper or more cheese, if desired. Enjoy.


In my photos, I show preparation of a half portion of this recipe.

I often cook the broccoli even softer and more broken up then seen in the photos.

You can use different types of pasta such as mezze rigatoni, penne, farfalle, fusilli or orecchiette.

You can make this with frozen broccoli, broccolini, or broccoli rabe. Cook time may vary.

You can use a fresh chili pepper instead of dried or omit all together.

Parmigiano reggiano can be substituted for pecorino cheese.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Boil, Saute
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Serving Size: 1/6 of pasta
  • Calories: 506
  • Sugar: 3g
  • Sodium: 165mg
  • Fat: 23g
  • Saturated Fat: 5g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 18g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 62g
  • Fiber: 5g
  • Protein: 15g
  • Cholesterol: 10mg