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The Best Pasta Broccoli Recipe

Nonna’s Pasta Broccoli is so delicious and creamy that you will not believe you are eating broccoli! We mix the broccoli with olive oil, garlic, and cheese to create a sauce that is soft and velvety!

A white bowl of linguine with a broccoli sauce.
A first course or an entrée.

The Best Pasta con Broccoli Sauce

There are a lot of versions of pasta broccoli out there. Most of them leave the broccoli florets whole. This recipe turns the broccoli into a sauce that coats the pasta like a broccoli cream! The way my mom (Nonna) achieves this is by cooking the broccoli until it is soft so that it is easy to breakdown with the back of a fork or a wooden spoon.

This is what makes this dish stand apart from all other versions that you might try. The broccoli sauce will melt in your mouth.

One of the other secrets to this pasta with Broccoli is the olive oil. You will need to use an insane amount of olive oil to create the right texture in this sauce, but I guarantee that it will be so worth it!

For years I tried to make this with a lot less olive oil, and I was never able to get the same creamy result that my mother did.

I finally got tired of hearing that my “pasta broccoli was good, but it is not like Nonna’s”. So, I broke down and decided that if I was going to make this dish and do it justice, I just had to increase the olive oil I was using and accept the extra calories that go along with it.

This is a pasta dish that you should whole heartedly enjoy and not worry about if it fits into a diet. Make it knowing that you are going to be treating yourself and your family to a delicious plate of pasta!

Broccoli sauce in a skillet with a wooden spoon.

Ingredients you need:

Ingredients photo of broccoli, onion, garlic, olive oil, grated romano cheese, red pepper flakes and spaghetti.

Here are the simple ingredients that you will need:

Broccoli: Use fresh broccoli and cut the florets into similar size pieces.

Olive Oil: Olive oil helps create the creamy texture when mixed with the broccoli.

Red Pepper Flakes: This is optional, but it gives the dish a little zing and I love that. You can use as much or as little as you like, or you can omit it all together and it will still be delicious.

Onion: Diced. This is optional but I love the flavor combination of the onion and garlic.

Garlic: Chopped fine.

Pecorino Romano: Grated cheese is the crowning glory of this dish. The saltiness of this cheese is the perfect finish to this sauce.

Pasta: This dish works just as well with a short or long pasta, so whatever you prefer or have on hand is fine, just select a good quality product.

How we make Italian Pasta with Broccoli

  1. Cook the broccoli in a pot of water until it is soft, about 12-15 minutes.
  2. Sauté the onion in olive oil until it is translucent then add the garlic and red pepper flakes.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked broccoli to the skillet. Add your pasta to the broccoli water and cook as directed.
  4. Use a wooden spoon or the back of a fork to mash the broccoli and stir the sauce.
  5. Add the grated pecorino romano cheese to the broccoli and stir until it is evenly integrated. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Drain the pasta and toss it in the broccoli sauce until it is coated. Add additional pasta water to thin out the sauce if needed.
  7. Serve with additional pecorino romano cheese.
A white bowl of pasta broccoli topped with grated cheese.

Tips for making this the best pasta dish

  • If you leave a little of the stem on the broccoli, remove the tough skin as it may not get tender enough.
  • Cook the broccoli in salted water so that it is seasoned before you start making the sauce.
  • Make sure the broccoli is cooked until it is soft. This way it will be easy to mash with a fork or spoon and will become creamy when combined with the olive oil.
  • Cook the pasta in the same water that you cooked the broccoli in. It helps to flavor the pasta and it is one less pan that needs to be washed. You may need to add a little more water to the pan before you add the pasta.
  • Reserve some of the pasta water to use in the sauce. Use it to thin out the sauce to your liking.
  • Add a drizzle of olive oil to the finished the sauce. It will make the sauce velvety.

What to serve with Pasta and Broccoli

In Italy, pasta is usually a first course, followed by a meat, chicken or fish course. I find that this goes well as a side dish for any of these proteins. But it can also be served as a hearty main course. Add a loaf of bread or a salad and you have a delicious meatless meal.

A bowl of pasta with broccoli sauce.


How do you store leftovers?

Any left overs can be stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator for several days.

What is Pecorino Romano Cheese?

True Pecorino Romano is a hard, salty Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk. It is often used for grating on pasta or other dishes. It was originally produced in the Lazio region of Italy, which is where Rome is located. Because the cheese is made of sheep’s milk many people find it easier to digest then cheese made of cow’s milk.

Additional Italian pasta dishes that you will love:

Pasta is always a good option for a quick dinner. Theses are some of our most loved dishes that are so easy you can make them any night of the week.

Pasta with Vodka Sauce and Sausage is a restaurant quality dish. It is creamy savory and satisfying! You will love this spin on vodka sauce. Pasta con le Sarde and Bucatini Alla Carbonara are classic dishes Italians have been enjoying for a very long time. My versions are true to the traditional recipes with easy to follow instructions for success.

Caprese Pasta with Fresh Mozzarella is a summertime favorite! When tomatoes are in season and bursting with flavor, we love to make this recipe. It is great served cold as a salad and or enjoyed as a hot dish.

I can’t forget about baked pastas. There is nothing as comforting as a baked pasta dish and my Pasta Rustica with Sausage and Nonna’s Pasta al Forno are both full of flavor and loaded with melty cheese.

I love to get your feedback so if you tried this Pasta Broccoli  or any other recipes on this website, please leave me a comment below.  I hope you enjoy our recipes and look forward to hearing from you!

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Pasta Broccoli Recipe

A white bowl of linguine with a broccoli sauce.

Nonna’s Pasta with Broccoli

Pasta with broccoli is so wonderfully rich and creamy that you won't believe that you are eating broccoli. This is a family favorite!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 people
Calories 437 kcal


  • 6 cups Broccoli florets, about 3 heads washed and cut into even pieces
  • 1 tbsp. Salt
  • ½ Onion medium
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 5 oz. olive oil
  • tbsp. Red Pepper flakes optional
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • ¼ tsp. Black Pepper ground
  • 6 tbsp. Pecorino Romano Cheese grated, and more for serving at the table
  • 1 lb. Pasta Fettuccini, Linguini, or your favorite shape


  • Fill a past pot or stock pot with water and bring to a boil.
  • Cut the broccoli into florets and wash.
  • When the water is boiling, add the broccoli and 1 tbsp of salt and stir. Cook the broccoli until the florets are soft, about 10 minutes.
  • Heat the oil in a skillet. When it is hot add the onion, garlic and red pepper flakes if you are using them.
  • Cook just until the onion is soft, but do not allow the garlic to burn.
  • Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the broccoli to the skillet.
  • Using the back of a wooden spoon or a fork, mash the broccoli and mix it with the onion.
  • Add the additional salt, ground pepper and the cheese and mix well.
  • Cook the pasta in the broccoli water according to the product directions. The shape you select will determine how long the pasta will need to cook.
  • Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of water. Pour the pasta into the skillet and toss with the broccoli. Add some pasta water if the sauce seems to thick.
  • Serve the pasta with additional cheese for sprinkling on top.


Serving: 8gCalories: 437kcalCarbohydrates: 48gProtein: 13gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 939mgPotassium: 366mgFiber: 4gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 540IUVitamin C: 62mgCalcium: 164mgIron: 1mg
Keyword pasta, broccoli, cheese, dinner
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  1. I make this dish but a different variation….can’t wait to try your recipe…looks delish😋
    When you cook the onion and garlic, you leave the garlic whole, minced, smashed, etc? The onion is sliced, chopped, diced?
    Appreciate your thoughts.

  2. Sorry I jumped to your recipe and after I commented went back to the top and scrolled and read what you wrote. Thank you.

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