orecchiette pasta with broccoli sauce

orecchiette pasta with broccoli sauce

orecchiette pasta with broccoli sauce

Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Sauce – a simple vegetarian pasta dish hailing from Tuscany that is easy to make, healthy and oh so delicious!

  Prep Time: 5 Cook Time: 25   Total Time: 30 minutes   Yield: 4    Category: vegetarian main   Method: stove top   Cuisine: Italian


12 ounces broccoli florets- cut or broken into very small floretsabout equal size
8 ounces short pasta- orecchiette pasta, penne, rigatoni, etc
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves- rough chopped
generous pinch chili flakes
generous pinch salt and pepper
1–2 anchovy, chopped (optional)
2 cups veggie or chicken broth
Garnish options- grated parmesan or pecorino cheese,  lemon zest, fresh basil ribbons, toasted pine nuts, toasted bread crumbs, truffle oil or kalamata olives- all optional.


  • Steam small broccoli florets until very tender ( easily pierced with a fork)  and set aside.
  • Cook pasta according to directions, and save some hot pasta water when you drain.
  • In a large pan, saute the garlic and chili flakes in the olive oil, over medium heat until fragrant and golden, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the steamed broccoli, optional anchovy, salt, pepper and broth. Bring to a gentle simmer and start breaking apart the broccoli with a metal spatula into tiny pieces. You want the broccoli to basically melt down into a “sauce”.  Continue simmering gently, on low heat until half of the liquid evaporates and it becomes the consisancy of a thick sauce, about 10-15 minutes. It won’t be smooth-just broken down and tender.
  • Add the pasta. Toss well. Add more pasta water if you like it a little more saucy. Taste for salt, adding more along with pepper and the chili flakes.
  • Divide among bowls and top with any of the garnishes you like. Grated Parmesan adds depth and salt, Lemon zest adds a nice brightness, which I highly recommend and a drizzle of truffle oil elevates.

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