This recipe for creamy broccoli pasta is loaded with broccoli and cheese. The dish comes together in about 20 minutes, making it the perfect weeknight dinner.
Despite the name, this recipe doesn’t have a lot of cream that hides the broccoli flavor, you actually taste it because is also cooked in a pan and not boiled in a separate pot.
Why You Should Make This Recipe
- Is easy. Really, is one of the easiest recipes out there for beginners and is always a hit.
- Is quick. It takes about 20 minutes from start to end, and that includes washing and cutting the broccoli!
- Is loaded with broccoli. Think of all the health benefits this amazing vegetable has.
- Can be customized. With just simple changes, like adding some chicken, or shrimp, using gluten-free pasta, or adding some chili flakes, this recipe is highly customizable.
- Is not too heavy. Even using cream, because the recipe uses also some acqua di cottura (cooking water), making the sauce thicker without the need for a roux.
Related: Health Benefits Of Broccoli.
Let’s see the ingredients you will need to make this delicious and creamy broccoli pasta.
Ingredients And Substitutions
PENNE PASTA – You can also use other types of pasta, but penne rigate is just perfect to go with this sauce and definitely worth trying at least once. I have used sometimes mezze penne or even pennettine, if you find them where you live use any of those too!
BROCCOLI – I used regular broccoli (in Italy is called cavolo broccolo or broccolo siciliano). When I can’t find that type I also use broccolo romanesco, because is very popular in this zone.
CREAM – Used whole cream, called also heavy cream. You can also sub with a healthier alternative like greek yogurt, or cashew cream.
BUTTER – Butter adds creaminess and flavor, but if you have concerns about calorie intake, feel free to leave it out or to replace it with your favorite oil.
CHEESE – I used Fontina cheese because I love the flavor and how the cheese really melts very well into the sauce, without clogging as other string cheese does. Feel free to sub with mozzarella cheese, gouda, or cheddar.
PARMIGIANO – Used freshly grated Parmigiano, but sometimes (especially if I am in a hurry) I also use store-bought parmesan cheese or Pecorino romano.
OIL – A little bit of extra virgin olive oil, to help the butter heat without burning, you can replace it with any oil you prefer.
STOCK – Because I prefer to cook the broccoli directly in the pan without using another pot, it is necessary to use some liquid. So I chose chicken stock but it can also be done with vegetable or beef stock if you want.
GARLIC – I used powdered garlic. If you prefer to use chopped fresh garlic I suggest sautéing it first in oil and then adding the broccoli as shown in the video.
MUSTARD – This is a star in the recipe! The Dijon mustard just adds a nice tangy flavor that goes perfectly with broccoli and cream. You can replace it with regular mustard if you want.
SALT AND PEPPER – To taste, just pay attention because the cheese and stock already have salt, so don’t add too much.
How To Make Creamy Broccoli Pasta
Place a large pot with water over high heat. Bring to a boil, add salt, and then cook the pasta accordingly to the package instructions.
While the pasta is cooking, cut the broccoli in half then chop it into small florets.
In a large skillet or pan, heat the oil over medium heat, add the butter and as soon as it melts, add the broccoli florets.
Add garlic, salt, and pepper, then pour one cup of chicken stock. Mix well and cook until broccoli will be al dente (about 4 minutes), adding the remaining stock little by little.
Now, make sure there’s still some liquid, then add the cream and mustard. Mix well and cook for one minute.
Turn off the heat. Drain and add the pasta, Fontina cheese, and parmigiano.
Pour over half a cup of pasta cooking water and mix vigorously until the cheese is melted and your pasta has a nice creamy sauce.
Serve immediately with more parmigiano cheese sprinkled on top.
- Place the water as the first thing when making this recipe, the sauce comes together in just over 10 minutes, enough time to cook your pasta and have it ready to add to the condiment right away.
- You can also stir in some fresh parsley or use it for garnish.
- Try to cut your broccoli into bites of the same size so it will cook evenly.
- You can also use frozen broccoli, don’t need to thaw it, just add it to the pan and cook it as long as it takes to be done. Use more pasta cooking water if needed.
- Protein. You can add chicken, sausage, or shrimp to this creamy broccoli pasta, just sauté before broccoli and then proceed with the recipe.
- Spicy. Add some red pepper flakes to the sauce for a spicy kick.
- Lemony. Add a few drops of lemon juice or lemon zest for a fresh touch.
- Nutty. Sprinkle some pine nuts for flavor or toasted nuts for a fun crunch.
- Pasta. Feel free to use any other type of pasta you prefer, from gluten-free to homemade pasta.
How To Store and Reheat?
Place leftovers in an airtight glass container and store them in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Add to a pan with a splash of water, chicken broth, or milk to loosen up the sauce. Reheat the pasta on the stove over medium heat. You can also place it in a proper container and reheat it in the microwave at 1-minute intervals.
I don’t recommend freezing, cooked pasta doesn’t thaw well as they tend to fall apart when reheated. Besides, this creamy broccoli pasta recipe comes together in so little time that there’s no need to make it ahead!
Watch The Video
Did you enjoy this creamy broccoli pasta recipe? Please, don’t forget to rate it and leave us a comment below.
Creamy Broccoli Pasta
- 1.1 lb broccoli
- 12 oz penne pasta
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 3 Tbsp butter
- ½ cup Fontina cheese (shredded)
- ½ cup parmigiano cheese (grated )
- 1 ½ Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- Salt & pepper (to taste)
- Place a large pot with water over high heat.
- Bring to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package instructions.
- While the pasta is cooking cut the broccoli in half then chop it into small florets.
- In a large sauté pan heat the oil over medium heat, add the butter and as soon as it melts, add the broccoli florets.
- Add the garlic, salt, and pepper, then pour one cup of chicken stock.
- Mix well and cook until broccoli will be al dente (about 4 minutes), adding the remaining stock little by little.
- Make sure there’s still some liquid, then add the cream and mustard. Mix well and cook for one minute.
- Turn off the heat, then add pasta, Fontina cheese and parmigiano.
- Pour over half a cup of cooking water and mix vigorously until the cheese is melted and the sauce has a creamy texture.
- Serve immediately with more parmigiano cheese sprinkled on top.
Maricruz Avalos Flores is a Mexican cook and photographer living in Italy where she shares authentic Mexican & Italian recipes that can be easily made at home using easy-to-find ingredients.