Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Sauce


  • 12 ounces broccoli florets- cut or broken into very small florets about 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
  • 1 cup grated parmesan or pecorino
  • Garnish options- lemon zest, fresh basil ribbons, toasted pine nuts, toasted bread crumbs, truffle oil or kalamata olives- all optional.


  1. Steam small broccoli florets until very tender ( easily pierced with a fork)  and set aside.
  2. Cook pasta according to directions, and save some hot pasta water when you drain.
  3. 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 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. Stir in the parmesan.
  4. Once the cheese is melted and incorporated, add the pasta. Toss well. Add more pasta water if you want it a little more saucy. Taste for salt, adding more along with pepper and chili flakes.
  5. Divide among bowls and top with any of the garnishes you like. Lemon zest adds a nice brightness, which I recommend.  A drizzle of truffle oil elevates.
  6. Enjoy!

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