perfect orecchiette pasta with broccoli in a white dish

Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli 

Do you know what I like making for lunch these days? A simple vegetarian pasta! Hearty, satisfying, and delicious, this pasta is full of flavor and nutrients. Orecchiette means little ears and this ear-shaped one is the perfect pasta for the fare as it spoons in the rich sauce seamlessly.

On top, if you are planning to consume less meat for your meals or if you would like to shift to an all-plant diet on a gradual basis, then this recipe can become a handy one to try out. Furthermore, the dish comes together in a flash, and that too with ingredients you already have in your pantry.

green broccoli in a steamer

In this traditional Pugliese pasta, broccoli is cooked down and melted into a sauce. The luscious and creamy broccoli sauce then smothers the pasta generously. All these make it the ideal weeknight comfort dinner which the whole family will devour.

A simple yet sophisticated pasta that is great for cold winter nights. Buon Appetito!

How to Make Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli 

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 8 oz. Orecchiette Pasta
  • 2 cups Vegetable Stock
  • 12 oz. Broccoli, torn into florets, with no stems
  • Kosher Salt & Black Pepper, as needed
  • 6 cloves of Garlic, smashed  & chopped roughly
  • 2 to 3 Sun-Dried Tomatoes, chopped
  • ¼ tsp. Chili Pepper Flakes
  • 1 to 2 tbsp. Parmesan Cheese, for garnishing
  • Basil leaves, for garnishing, optional

Method of Preparation

For making this tasty pasta dish, place the broccoli in a steamer over medium heat and cook them for 6 to 7 minutes or until they become tender. Transfer the broccoli to a kitchen towel. Keep it aside.

In the meantime, heat salted water in a large pot of water and heat it over medium heat and once the water starts boiling, stir in the pasta.

Cook the pasta according to the instructions given on the package until it becomes al-dente. Tip: While cooking the pasta, stir the pasta frequently so that the pasta doesn’t stick.

For draining the pasta, transfer the cooked pasta to a colander. Reserve the pasta water. Set the pasta aside.

Next, take a large saucepan and heat it over medium-low heat.

To this, spoon in the olive oil and once it becomes hot, stir in the garlic and chili flakes.

Sauté for 3 minutes or until it becomes golden & aromatic. Tip: Stir frequently so that the garlic doesn’t get burnt and browned.

Then, stir in the cooked broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, pepper, vegetable stock, and salt into it and give a good mix.

When the mixture starts to simmer gently, break down the broccoli with a spatula into smaller pieces. Tip: The broccoli should be in a sauce form.

Continue cooking for another 10 minutes by allowing it to simmer gently or until the sauce has reduced and thickened. Tip: At this point, the broccoli would break down to a sauce form as it is getting more and more cooked.

Finally, add the pasta to the pan and toss well so that the sauce coats the pasta. Taste for seasoning and spoon in more salt, chili, and pepper if needed.

Garnish with the grated parmesan and basil, if using.

Serve immediately and enjoy.

Nutritional Information per calories

  • Calories: 308Kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 50.8g
  • Proteins: 12.4g
  • Fat: 9.8g
  • Sodium: 95mg

Storage: The orecchiette pasta stays good for up to three days in the refrigerator. You can also freeze the pasta for up to three months in freezer-safe containers. Reheat by thawing them in the refrigerator overnight the day before. Or you can reheat them on the stove on low heat until it is warmed. If there seems to be a low amount of sauce, you can add a bit more water.

Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Tips

  • Serve it along with a simple green salad for a complete meal.
  • The garlic should be first smashed with the side of the knife and then you need to remove the peel. After that chop it roughly.
  • For enhanced flavor, you can add miso paste to the dish. Or if you are a meat-eater, then add anchovy paste. Start with a small amount and add more if required.
  • For crunchy toppings, you can add toasted pine nuts or toasted bread crumbs.
  • To oomph up the flavor, you can try adding lemon zest at the end along with a squeeze of fresh lemon for a bright note.
fresh lemons on a table
  • You can spoon in about ½ tsp. of olive oil into each of the bowls before serving for more flavor.
  • Another optional ingredient that you can add to up the flavor is dry white wine.
  • For extra crunchiness and flavor, you can try to add roasted red peppers.
  • If you prefer, you can cook the broccoli first in the salted water and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until they are soft. Next, with a slotted spoon, you can bring out the broccoli. This can help to retain the nutrients in the water.
  • If you are ok with adding non-veg ingredients to the fare, then you can use Italian sausages. According to your spice preference, you can employ either mild spicy sausage or spicy ones. Just make sure to remove the case before adding it.
  • To make it richer in taste, you can spoon in heavy cream. If using, add it to the pan along with the broccoli.
  • For a smoother sauce, you can place half of the sauce in a food processor and pulse it once.

Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli FAQ 

For best results, follow the recipe as it is. However, some common substitutes would work well in this recipe.   They are:

  • Instead of vegetable stock, you can also use chicken stock
  • Instead of parmesan cheese, you can use pecorino romano cheese or shredded mozzarella cheese. Pecorino romano is the one which is used more though.
  • Instead of orecchiette, you can use rigatoni or penne pasta.
  • Instead of broccoli, you can use broccoli rabe.

What to do if the pasta needs more sauce?

For more sauce, you can add more of the sticky reserved pasta water.

perfect orechiette pasta with broccoli sitting in a dish

Orecchiette Pasta With Broccoli

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Course dinner
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4
Calories 308 kcal

Equipment

  • steamer
  • saucepan
  • pot
  • colander

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 8 oz Orecchiette Pasta
  • 2 cups Vegetable Stock
  • 12 oz Broccoli torn into florets, with no stems
  • Kosher Salt & Black Pepper as needed
  • 6 cloves Garlic smashed  & chopped roughly
  • 2 to 3 Sun-Dried Tomatoes chopped
  • ¼ tsp Chili Pepper Flakes
  • 1 to 2 tbsp Parmesan Cheese for garnishing
  • Basil leaves for garnishing, optional

Instructions
 

  • Place the broccoli in a steamer over medium heat and cook them for 6 to 7 minutes or until they become tender. Transfer the broccoli to a kitchen towel. Keep it aside.
  • In the meantime, heat salted water in a large pot of water and heat it over medium heat and once the water starts boiling, stir in the pasta.
  • Cook the pasta according to the instructions given on the package until it becomes al-dente. Tip: While cooking the pasta, stir the pasta frequently so that the pasta doesn’t stick.
  • For draining the pasta, transfer the cooked pasta to a colander. Reserve the pasta water. Set the pasta aside.
  • Next, take a large saucepan and heat it over medium-low heat.
  • To this, spoon in the olive oil and once it becomes hot, stir in the garlic and chili flakes.
  • Sauté for 3 minutes or until it becomes golden & aromatic. Tip: Stir frequently so that the garlic doesn’t get burnt and browned.
  • Then, stir in the cooked broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, pepper, vegetable stock, and salt into it and give a good mix.
  • When the mixture starts to simmer gently, break down the broccoli with a spatula into smaller pieces. Tip: The broccoli should be in a sauce form.
  • Continue cooking for another 10 minutes by allowing it to simmer gently or until the sauce has reduced and thickened. Tip: At this point, the broccoli would break down to a sauce form as it is getting more and more cooked.
  • Finally, add the pasta to the pan and toss well so that the sauce coats the pasta. Taste for seasoning and spoon in more salt, chili, and pepper if needed.
  • Garnish with the grated parmesan and basil, if using.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy.
Terry Reece
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