La Tavola della mia Famiglia: Pasta con Broccoli

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Pasta con Broccoli, or Pasta with Broccoli has been a staple meal in my family for as long as I can remember. My grandmother made it. My aunts all make it. My mother makes it, and I do too.  It’s not only because it is an incredibly quick and easy dish to cook, though it is.  It’s also not only because it is a pretty healthy dish, because it’s that too.  My family eats a lot of pasta with broccoli because it’s just plain delicious.

I sometimes think that a lot of people imagine that Italian cooking, is all about long, drawn out, complicated dishes that take all day to prepare.  While there certainly are a lot of those, there are many more that aren’t.  Italians don’t just sit around living la dolce vita all day long.  They go to work and school, run errands and take care of their families just like everybody else.  Every Italian housewife I ever knew had a slew of great recipes in her arsenal – like this one – that could be put together in an hour or less.

So let me show you just how easy Pasta con Broccoli is to make. 

First, get yourself a couple of bunches of nice, fresh, green broccoli.  Choose broccoli with floret clusters that are compact and not bruised. They should be uniformly colored, with no yellowing. They also shouldn’t have any blooming yellow flowers, as this is a sign of over maturity. The stalk and stems should be firm with no slimy spots. If the leaves are still attached, they should be a deep, dark green and not wilted.


Cut off the florets, and halve any that are larger than about an inch in diameter.  This is so that the broccoli will cook evenly.  You can also use frozen broccoli florets in this dish.  Doing so doesn’t affect the quality at all.  But, if you do go with frozen, don’t thaw it before cooking or else it will get mushy.

Next, get out your best extra-virgin olive oil. A really good one will have a greenish tinge to it.  You’ll also need to slice up some fresh garlic cloves.  Try to get them thin, but not too much so or else they may burn in the pan.

garlic-oil collage

Heat the oil in a pan and gently sauté the garlic. You won’t believe how fragrant that garlic gets!  I always add some red pepper flakes too, because I’m a fiery Italian woman.

Once the garlic is soft and lightly golden, toss in the broccoli, cover and cook.


When the broccoli is tender and just a tad bit browned, pour in a little of the pasta cooking water or chicken stock, and simmer until the broccoli is cooked through.  What!  You didn’t forget about the pasta, did you?  Sheesh! That’s why it’s called Pasta con Broccoli.   Do I have to tell you everything?

The traditional pasta used in this dish is orecchiette, which means little ears.  Orecchiette is a variety of pasta from Puglia, and is shaped like…well – you know – like little ears.  They’re perfect served in sauces and soups  because their “scoop-like” shape traps bits of sauce or broth.  It’s like having a thousand little bowls inside your plate.   If you can’t find orecchiette or just don’t feel like using it, you can substitute any kind of short pasta, preferably one with a textured surface.


When your broccoli is nice and tender, add in the cooked pasta and toss.  Drizzle a little extra-virgin olive oil all over the top, sprinkle with grated cheese and you’re done.

Buon Appetito!



26 responses to La Tavola della mia Famiglia: Pasta con Broccoli

  1. On August 22, 2010 at 11:43pm, nina said...

    My family loves broccoli, but they are not mad about it. I am sure if I serve it like this with pasta, they are going to love it. Thx for sharing your family recipe!!

  2. On August 23, 2010 at 12:17am, The Duo Dishes said...

    Simple but filling. You can size this up to feed an army too!

  3. On August 23, 2010 at 1:12am, Betty @ scrambled hen fruit said...

    So simple, but so delicious! Thanks!

  4. On August 23, 2010 at 4:28am, Rosa said...

    A lovely dish! I love that combination.



  5. On August 23, 2010 at 5:42am, Sally said...

    Hi, I love this dish, always order it in resturants but it never ocurred to me to cook it at home, so thanks!!

  6. On August 23, 2010 at 6:57am, Jessica @ How Sweet It Is said...

    This makes broccoli look good!

  7. On August 23, 2010 at 7:57am, Patricia Turo said...

    This is one of my family”s favorite dishes. It is easy, healthy and delicious.


  8. On August 23, 2010 at 8:33am, bellini valli said...

    The first word that comes to mind is simply “YUM”

  9. On August 23, 2010 at 11:21am, The Food Hunter said...

    My grandmother always made this for me as a kid. It was one of my favorites

  10. On August 23, 2010 at 4:59pm, heather said...

    these are the simple pasta recipes i grew up to love. start with fresh ingredients, don’t over-do it, and there you have a wonderful meal.



  11. On August 23, 2010 at 5:02pm, Memoria said...

    What a yummy dish!

  12. On August 23, 2010 at 5:13pm, said...

    I love this but so often forget about it as an at-home possibility. Thanks for a great recipe (and the colorful how-to) and the reminder, too.

  13. On August 23, 2010 at 6:45pm, Joan Nova said...

    This dish is a staple in my family too — it’s one time when if you cook the vegetable past ‘al dente’, it tastes even better.

  14. On August 24, 2010 at 9:36am, Rachel (S[d]OC) said...

    This is always a great go-to quick pasta dish. I think my mother would eat it every day if she could get away with it.

    Some toasted pine nuts are always great tossed in this dish.

  15. On August 24, 2010 at 10:25am, The Italian Dish said...

    What a great dish!

  16. On August 24, 2010 at 6:28pm, UrMomCooks said...

    This is the kind of dish that needs the first crop of cool-weather broccoli! Looks fantastic!

  17. On August 25, 2010 at 4:49pm, Delishhh said...

    So simple and easy. I am always looking for new broccoli dishes to make.

    I have a giveaway going on, don’t miss out, it ends 8/27 and it’s for all the wine enthusiasts.

  18. On August 25, 2010 at 5:44pm, Marie said...

    A big favorite in my kitchen and yes, I use lots of red pepper, because I’m a firey Italian women too!

  19. On August 27, 2010 at 6:00am, Oriana said...

    Was your grandmother from Puglia?

  20. On August 27, 2010 at 7:28am, Beth said...

    I’ll have to give this one a try. My picky eater actually likes broccoli!

  21. On August 27, 2010 at 12:16pm, christine said...

    Wow! The photo looks good, I bet it taste even better. Where do you get your inspiration? If you wont mind I’d love to guide Foodista readers to your post. Just add the foodista widget to the end of this post so it will appear in the Foodista pages and it’s all set, Thanks!

  22. On September 02, 2010 at 12:47am, Indie.tea said...

    Ooo, it looks delicious. I bet it would be great with some toasted pine nuts or almonds to top it off.

  23. On September 05, 2010 at 11:26am, Alisa said...

    This is a lifesaver! I served this when my friends suddenly dropped by and they loved it! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  24. On September 14, 2010 at 2:59pm, VINCENT said...


    We bumped into your blog and we really liked it – great recipes YUM YUM.
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  25. On September 28, 2010 at 4:37pm, Vicky said...

    My mom has been making this dish for years, a recipe that was passed down to her from her mom & her grandmother. This recipe is to the “T” of how she’s made it for years! :)

  26. On December 05, 2013 at 12:25pm, Locali Viareggio said...

    One of the easiest recipe for pasta, but also one of the most tasty. A good trick is to cook the broccoli in the same water of the pasta and also use some anchovies together with garlic. Enjoy.

1 pings to La Tavola della mia Famiglia: Pasta con Broccoli

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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